According to Forbes.com today nearly two thirds of the bankrupsies filed in 2007 were because of medical bills due to illness. The link is here, but here are a couple of snippets from the article today:
They randomly surveyed 2,314 bankruptcy filers in early 2007 and found that 77.9 percent of those bankrupted by medical problems had health insurance at the start of the bankrupting illness, including 60 percent who had private coverage.
Most of those bankrupted by medical problems were "solidly middle class" before they suffered financial disaster -- two-thirds were homeowners and three-fifths had gone to college. In many cases, these people were hit at the same time by high medical bills and loss of income as illness forced breadwinners to take time off work. It was common for illness to lead to job loss and the disappearance of work-based health insurance.
And it continues:
"Our findings are frightening. Unless you're Warren Buffett, your family is just one serious illness away from bankruptcy," lead author Dr. David Himmelstein, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, said in a news release from the Physicians for a National Health Program.
"For middle-class Americans, health insurance offers little protection. Most of us have policies with so many loopholes, co-payments and deductibles that illness can put you in the poorhouse. And even the best job-based health insurance often vanishes when a prolonged illness causes job loss -- precisely when families need it most. Private health insurance is a defective product, akin to an umbrella that melts in the rain," Himmelstein said.
The findings show that, as a nation, "we need to rethink health reform," added study co-author Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a primary care physician.
"Covering the uninsured isn't enough. Reform also needs to help families who already have insurance by upgrading their coverage and assuring that they never lose it. Only single-payer national health insurance can make universal, comprehensive coverage affordable by saving the hundreds of billions we now waste on insurance overhead and bureaucracy," Woolhandler said in the news release.
"Unfortunately, Washington politicians seem ready to cave in to insurance firms and keep them and their counterfeit coverage at the core of our system. Reforms that expand phony insurance -- stripped-down plans riddled with co-payments, deductibles and exclusions -- won't stem the rising tide of medical bankruptcy," Woolhandler concluded.
So contrary to popular opinion spouted by the Right Wing, even hard working folk like me are having problems keeping up with the rising costs of medical bills. When I combine this with the story from Doxy about her friend here, it makes me even more angry. From Doxy's site:
She was a loving, good woman, friend, and mother, and she never caught a break.********************************* She died of cancer yesterday. She died at age 50, leaving that 10-year-old boy with the chronic illness without her fierce love and protection. God only knows what his life will be like now.
She died because she was poor, and because she didn’t have health insurance. She died because, when she started having pain and other symptoms almost five years ago, she didn’t go to the doctor because she couldn’t afford it. What might have been easily curable had it been caught early was a death sentence by the time she was no longer able to bear the pain and dragged herself to the emergency room.
Which is why I am urging anyone that reads this to write their senators and congressmen about this issue. You should not have to choose between your health and your home.
Then he will say to those at his left hand, “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?” Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’ --Matthew 25:41-46
--->>> UPDATE: In answer to those who cite Canada's notorious wait times, here's an interesting article. The conclusion they reach is:
In sum, the number of Canadians receiving care in the U.S. appears to be
extremely low compared to the amount of care that Canadians receive in Canada. There does
exist a group of Canadians who come to America
1) To receive therapies not approved in Canada;
2) To avoid long waiting lines; and
3) Because of limited capacity in Canada in certain technologies. However, these Canadians are by far the exception, not the rule.
The idea that Canadians flock to the U.S. specifically for healthcare loses even further
legitimacy when one considers that the number of Canadians treated in the U.S. does not just
include people who specifically go to the U.S. for healthcare; it also includes care given to
Canadians traveling in the U.S., Canadians working in the U.S. on business travel, and Canadians who move to the U.S. during the winter to avoid the cold ("snowbirds"). Finally, in some rural areas of Canada, it is more convenient to go to the U.S. than to travel long distances to healthcare facilities due to simple proximity .
Unfortunately, the image of Canadians crossing the border will continue to be conjured up despite the fact that such images are based purely on anecdotal evidence.