Getting help is not as easy as it used to be. A recent study showed that roughly 60% of all bankruptcies in America are due to medical bills. This is an increase of 50% in just six years. And what’s worse is that for the middle class, medical insurance offers little protection, if any at all.
The study found that 75% of the bankrupt families actually had medical insurance. However, the medical debts were too costly. The research team, consisting of Harvard Law School, Harvard Medical School, and Ohio University, reported that, “Using a conservative definition, 62.1 percent of all bankruptcies in 2007 were medical; 92 percent of these medical debtors had medical debts over $5,000, or 10 percent of pretax family income. Most medical debtors were well-educated, owned homes and had middle-class occupations.”
The study surveyed 2,134 random families that filed for bankruptcy between January and April, 2007, BEFORE the recession began. Only 29% of the families blamed their bankruptcy on the medical bills, 62% had medical bills that were equivalent or greater than 10% of the family income.
Obviously something needs to be done here. Many middle class Americans are being thrown into bankruptcy when they are most in need of help. The United States Government, headed by President Obama, is beginning its reform of the current healthcare system. While it will obviously take some tweaking before the new system will be perfected it is needed. Currently, the U.S healthcare system leaves 15% of the American population (about 46 million people if you didn’t know), without healthcare insurance. 46 million people without any coverage whatsoever.
What is more appalling is that the costs of the medical bills for nonstroke neurological illnesses, such as multiple sclerosis (MS) are as high as $34,167. MS is followed by diabetes ($26,971), injuries ($25,096), stroke ($23,380), mental illnesses ($23,178), and heart disease ($21,955).
It is clear that something needs to be done, and President Obama also recognizes that some sort of change will be needed. The immense job of reforming the current healthcare system is in his hands, and hopefully he is up to the task. He promised change, but let’s see if he can change things for the better.
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