June 15th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Over 60% of all US bankruptcies attributable to medical problems

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/06/15/obama.ama/art.obama.health.cnn.jpg caption="Obama makes a case for universal health care to the AMA."]

Editor's note: President Barack Obama spoke to the American Medical Association earlier today about his plan for an overhaul of the American health care system and cited economic stabiltiy as one of the most important reasons for reform. The American Journal of Medicine issued this news release two weeks ago about a recent study. Tune in to AC360º at 10 P.M. ET tonight and all this week for coverage on Obama's speech and the case for health care reform.

The American Journal of Medicine

In 2007, before the current economic downturn, an American family filed for bankruptcy in the aftermath of illness every 90 seconds; three-quarters of them were insured. Over 60% of all bankruptcies in the United States in 2007 were driven by medical incidents. In an article published in the August 2009 issue of The American Journal of Medicine, the results of the first-ever national random-sample survey of bankruptcy filers shows that illnesses and medical bills contribute to a large and increasing share of bankruptcies. The share of bankruptcies attributable to medical problems rose by 50% between 2001 and 2007.

Following up on a 2001 study in 5 states, where medical problems contributed to at least 46.2% of all bankruptcies, researchers from Cambridge Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Harvard Law School and Ohio University surveyed a random national sample of 2,314 bankruptcy filers in 2007, abstracted their court records, and interviewed 1,032 of them. They designated bankruptcies as “medical” based on debtors’ stated reasons for filing, income loss due to illness and the magnitude of their medical debts.

Using identical definitions in 2001 and 2007, the share of bankruptcies attributable to medical problemsrose by 49.6%. The odds that a bankruptcy had a medical cause were 2.38 fold higher in 2007 than in 2001.


soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. JC- Los Angeles

    What ailments were the corporate executives suffering from who ran companies into the ground?

    June 15, 2009 at 7:52 pm |
  2. Lesley Anne

    These kinds of things should be all over CNN's nightly and Sunday political news. It would represent fair and balanced reporting. If this is happening with the private insurance health care that is so sacred to the conservatives, it's proof positive that their idea of health insurance does not work and is literally bankrupting the country. It speaks volumes for a public option, which couldn't possibly be worse than what the for-profit insurance industry has been getting away with for decades. I certainly hope that on his Sunday morning talk show, John King interviews some people who can speak to this crisis with these kinds of facts. Dems and progressives need to be heard as much as the Republicans.

    June 15, 2009 at 6:42 pm |