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January 30th, 2008
11:21 AM ET

It can happen to you

The Number 1 cause of personal bankruptcy in the United States is unpaid medical bills. As we found, it is not just the uninsured, but also the underinsured. It is also people who think they have excellent health insurance, but it is simply not enough.

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The Zeiglers hold baby Brooke

Dawn and William Zeigler were living the American dream with a nice house, cars and plenty of money. When their daughter Brooke was born too early and required multiple surgeries, they never considered the cost because they thought they were covered. And, they were, at least for a while. They were amazed at how quickly the bills piled up, though. Tens of thousands of dollars a day, and soon their policy no longer provided any money. (Watch Video)

Brooke Zeigler died when she was 18 months old. Her father told me that he had to tell the doctors to stop working on her. It was the hardest thing he ever had to do in his life. The bills that arrived for nearly a million dollars may pale in comparison to losing one's child, but the Zeiglers are now at real risk of losing their dreams.

The health care debate is complicated. Again, the Zeiglers were covered, but not enough to cover little Brooke's millions of dollars of expenses. This is the reality of our broken health-care system and continues to be one of the biggest domestic issues on the minds of voters. Any thoughts on how to address this specific issue within of our health-care system?

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– Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Chief Medial Correspondent

Programming note: Watch "Broken Government: Health Care – Critical Condition" on Thursday and Sunday at 11 p.m. ETEditor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


Filed under: Dr. Sanjay Gupta • Health Care
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