Rethinking the Debates over Health Care Financing: Evidence From the Bankruptcy Courts
Melissa B. Jacoby
University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - School of Law
Teresa A. Sullivan
University of Virginia - Office of the President
Harvard Law School
As published in New York University Law Review, Vol. 76, No. 2
In 1999, Professors Jacoby, Sullivan, and Warren undertook an empirical study of bankruptcy filings to understand better the circumstances that brought middle-class families to a state of financial collapse. The information gathered in the study, known as Phase III of the Consumer Bankruptcy Project, revealed that an estimated more than half a million middle-class families turned to bankruptcy courts for help after illness or injury that year. The findings of the study illustrate how bankruptcy files document the economic problems families encounter when bills mount and incomes fall in the aftermath of a medical problem. In this Article, Professors Jacoby, Sullivan, and Warren present the data from their study to illustrate that hundreds of thousands of middle-class families in the United States are devastated economically each year under the current health care finance system. Their data indicate that focusing on the presence or absence of health insurance alone would lead to an incomplete solution. Instead, the authors suggest that since bankruptcy effectively serves as part of the health care payment system, bankruptcy policy should be included in any comprehensive review of health care financing policy.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 44
JEL Classification: I18, k39
Date posted: May 17, 2001
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