According to an article in the Star-Telegram, bankruptcy filings caused by medical debt are on the rise as the economy worsens and more Americans lose their jobs and by extension their medical insurance. The article features Tirra Jones, who recently filed Chapter 13 bankruptc y because of the stress and financial duress created by more than $200,000 in medical debt.
The article said:
“Last month, Jones filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection, joining hundreds of people in Fort Worth and more than a half-million nationally, by some estimates, who file for bankruptcy each year because of medical expenses. Except for two car notes, most of the $271,000 in debt that Jones has accumulated was for medical expenses.”
And despite what some may assume about Jones’ situation, she is not a person who just chose to skip the expense of medical insurance. After leaving her job and starting her own day-care center, she attempted to get health insurance; but was turned down because of her pre-existing condition–diabetes. That’s right, diabetes. There are an estimated 24 million Americans suffering from diabetes and many of them (and others) are being denied access to medical insurance because of their condition.
Those people who are denied medical insurance don’t just avoid going to the hospital; when they get sick, they are going to the hospital and wracking up hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical debt, forcing them into bankruptcy. Although the exact number of bankruptcy filings caused by medical debt is not known, a study conducted by researchers at Harvard Law School, Harvard Medical School and Ohio University examined bankruptcy cases for 2007 and concluded that nearly two out of three bankruptcies in the nation stem from medical bills. And that’s before the economic crisis.