Misdiagnosis: A Comment on 'Illness and Injury as Contributors to Bankruptcy' and the Media Publicity Surrounding It
18 Pages Posted: 22 Jan 2018
Date Written: 2006
In early February 2005, a barrage of media publicity accompanied Health Affairs’ publication of "Illness and Injury as Contributors to Bankruptcy" — just a few weeks before the U.S. Senate was scheduled to take up bankruptcy reform legislation. Headlines like “Medical Bills Blamed in Half of Bankruptcies: and “Medical Bills Cause About Half of Bankruptcies, Study Finds” ran in major newspapers all over the country. For a while, the publicity made bankruptcy policy seem almost glamorous.
The problem with these headlines is that they were false. The study made no finding that medical bills were involved in half of all bankruptcies. Nor did it find that illness or injury, at least as those terms are ordinarily used, were major (or even minor) contributors to half of all bankruptcies. Stripped of its rhetorical excess, the study’s actual findings were far more modest — to the point that the media might not have been interested at all if they had understood it better. This article critiques the study and the publicity surrounding it.
Keywords: bankruptcy, medical bills, health insurance
JEL Classification: A00, A10, K10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation