TEXT OF STORY
Steve Chiotakis: We’ve heard horror stories before about the cost of medical care. Now one Harvard doctor says most American families are just one serious illness away from bankruptcy. There’s a new report out today in the American Journal of Medicine that says medical bills are involved in 60 percent of personal bankruptcies here in the United States. The latest from Washington, and Tamara Keith.
Tamara Keith: The share of bankruptcies that could be blamed on medical bills rose by 50 percent from 2001 to 2007. But here’s the amazing thing: 75 percent of those bankruptcies hit people covered by health insurance who were still overwhelmed by medical debts.
The research comes from Harvard Law School, Harvard Medical School and Ohio University. Researchers say most medical debtors were well-educated, owned homes and had middle-class jobs. The results are based on a survey of families who filed for bankruptcy in early ’07.
Multiple Sclerosis caused the highest out-of-pocket costs, followed by diabetes, injuries, mental illness and heart disease. Of course, serious medical problems can also lead to a loss of income due to missed work.
In Washington, I’m Tamara Keith for Marketplace.
If you’re a member of your local public radio station, we thank you — because your support helps those stations keep programs like Marketplace on the air. But for Marketplace to continue to grow, we need additional investment from those who care most about what we do: superfans like you.
Your donation — as little as $5 — helps us create more content that matters to you and your community, and to reach more people where they are – whether that’s radio, podcasts or online.
When you contribute directly to Marketplace, you become a partner in that mission: someone who understands that when we all get smarter, everybody wins.