Wednesday, February 02, 2005

More scary news

Half of all U.S. bankruptcies are caused by soaring medical bills and most people sent into debt by illness are middle-class workers with health insurance, researchers said Wednesday.

The study, published in the journal Health Affairs, estimated that medical bankruptcies affect about 2 million Americans every year, if both debtors and their dependents, including about 700,000 children, are counted.

"Our study is frightening. Unless you're Bill Gates you're just one serious illness away from bankruptcy," said Dr. David Himmelstein, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School who led the study. "Most of the medically bankrupt were average Americans who happened to get sick. Health insurance offered little protection."


Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, a Harvard associate professor and physician who advocates for universal health coverage, said the study supported demands for health reform.

"Covering the uninsured isn't enough. We must also upgrade and guarantee continuous coverage for those who have insurance," Woolhandler said in a statement.

She said many employers and politicians were pressing for what she called "stripped-down plans so riddled with co-payments, deductibles and exclusions that serious illness leads straight to bankruptcy."

Story here.

So. If having health insurance doesn't protect you from bankruptcy in the event of serious illness, what's the point of insurance at all? If it doesn't, you know, 'insure'.

When are people going to admit that single-payer is the only reasonable approach to health care in a 'first-world' country?


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