Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=664565
 
 

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Illness and Injury as Contributors to Bankruptcy


David U. Himmelstein


Harvard Medical School - Department of Medicine

Elizabeth Warren


Harvard Law School

Deborah Thorne


Independent

Steffie J. Woolhandler


Harvard Medical School - Department of Medicine

February 8, 2005


Abstract:     
In 2001, 1.458 million American families filed for bankruptcy. To investigate medical contributors to bankruptcy we surveyed 1771 personal bankruptcy filers in five Federal courts, and subsequently completed in-depth interviews with 931 of them. About half of debtors cited medical causes, indicating that between 1.850 and 2.227 million Americans (filers plus dependents) experienced medical bankruptcy. Among individuals whose illness led to bankruptcy, out-of-pocket costs averaged $11,854 since the start of illness; 75.7% had insurance at the onset of illness. Medical debtors were 42% more likely than other debtors to experience lapses in coverage. Even middle class, insured families often fall prey to financial catastrophe when sick.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 33

Keywords: medical, bankruptcy, debt, illness

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Date posted: February 9, 2005  

Suggested Citation

Himmelstein, David U. and Warren, Elizabeth and Thorne, Deborah and Woolhandler, Steffie J., Illness and Injury as Contributors to Bankruptcy (February 8, 2005). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=664565 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.664565

Contact Information

David U. Himmelstein (Contact Author)
Harvard Medical School - Department of Medicine ( email )
181 Longwood Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States
617-665-1032 (Phone)
Elizabeth Warren
Harvard Law School ( email )
1575 Massachusetts
Hauser 406
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-3101 (Phone)
617-496-6118 (Fax)
Deborah Thorne
Independent
No Address Available
Steffie J. Woolhandler
Harvard Medical School - Department of Medicine ( email )
181 Longwood Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States
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