Harvard study finds medical bills push many into bankruptcy

Post Date: February 3, 2005

“Both doctors and lawyers care about how health care is financed, but it was only when we put our heads together that we could probe further,” explained Elizabeth Warren, professor of law and author of “The Two-Income Trap.” “We discovered that in 2004 about two million men, women and children were swept through the bankruptcy system in the fallout of a medical problem. Good educations, decent jobs, and health insurance were no guarantee that a person wouldn’t be wiped out by an illness or accident. We believe the current policy debates are overlooking a critical problem: A broken health care finance system is bankrupting middle class America.”

“Our study is fairly shocking,” explained Steffie Woolhandler, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, in an interview with the Chicago Tribune. “We found that, too often, private health insurance is an umbrella that melts in the rain.”

The study, published in the journal Health Affairs, has been reported in stories in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal (subscription required), the Chicago Tribune, and others. To learn more, read the full study online at Health Affairs.