Study: Most Americans Are One Serious Illness Away From Bankruptcy

A new study has found that most Americans are one illness away from bankruptcy, and that 66.5 percent of bankruptcies were due to the costs of medical illness, because of the failures of private health insurance.

The study leader, Dr. David Himmelstein, Distinguished Professor at the City University of New York’s (CUNY) Hunter College and Lecturer at Harvard Medical School, said in a Physicians for a National Health Program press release that about 530,000 families each year are financially ruined by medical bills and sicknesses:

Unless you’re Bill Gates, you’re just one serious illness away from bankruptcy. For middle-class Americans, health insurance offers little protection. Most of us have policies with so many loopholes, copayments and deductibles that illness can put you in the poorhouse.

Himmelstein noted that “private health insurance is a defective product”:

Even the best job-based health insurance often vanishes when prolonged illness causes job loss – just when families need it most. Private health insurance is a defective product, akin to an umbrella that melts in the rain.

(Source: Physicians for a National Health Program, Photo Credit: Taber Andrew Bain/Flickr)

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