Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Going for Broke

Our friend TheaLogie draws attention to a newly released study by crusading Doc David Himmelstein and colleagues, including his crusading Doc spouse Steffie Woolhandler, about medical costs as contributors to personal bankruptcy. This is really important, particularly as the current administration of he-whose-name-will-not-be-spoken-here is trying to get us all off of that commie health insurance and into Health Savings Accounts.

The Health Crusaders find that almost 50% of the one and a half million annual personal bankruptcies in the U.S. each year are related to sickness and injury -- medical bills that they could not pay. Three quarters of them actually had insurance at the start of the illness, but they either lost it because they couldn't keep working, or it didn't cover needed services like physical therapy. Most of these people were what we would call middle class -- regular working folks. Under our present system, getting sick or being injured, or the illness of a family member, can mean financial ruin. And once you're bankrupt, you can't get credit, you'll often be turned down for a job (just what you need when you're broke, huh?), and you still have to pay your mortgage, your student loans, your taxes . . .

Here's where to read the article: Health Affairs . Link is in the upper right hand corner.

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