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Link to Full Medical Bankruptcy Article

posted by Debb Thorne

On June 5, CBS ran a story, "Medical Debt Huge Bankruptcy Culprit." CBS News story. Not only is it an interesting write up, but there is a link to our (Himmelstein, Thorne, Warren and Woolhandler) full article, "Medical Bankruptcy in the United States, 2007: Results of a National Study." Full text of research article. So if you are interested, you can read the article in its entirety.


I read somewhere that over the past 8 years the actual number of medical bankruptcies in the US is DOWN despite the strong implications to the contrary in this article. Moreover, this fact was completely left out of the analysis. I think academics should be more intellectually honest than this. But I'm sure I won't happen.

When I read through the research article, I wondered if there was an element of self selection towards medical reasons in those 46% who returned the medically oriented questionaire.

"We then mailed self-administered questionnaires to the
4976 debtors with valid addresses; 2314 (46.5%) were completed
and returned; 124 were returned incomplete (2.5%)
and 83 (1.7%) declined to participate; 2455 (49.3% of those
with valid addresses) did not respond."

"We compared court records (described below) of respondents with a random sample of 99 nonrespondents. Nonrespondents resembled respondents in income, assets, debts, net worth, market value of homes, and history of prior bankruptcy."

I guess the people who deal with bankruptcy every day have a good handle on what is going on.

Andrew: The questionnaires asked a wide range of questions (most demographic--age, marital status, number of kids, education, and so on). There were only a few questions that asked specifically about medical issues. Just an FYI. Debb

Commentary from The Atlantic:


Jun 5 2009, 9:31 am by Megan McArdle

"Why Elizabeth Warren's New Bankruptcy Study is So Bad"

And from Seeking Alpha:


"Bankruptcies Brought on by Medical Costs and Changes in Bankruptcy Law"

by: Mark Thoma June 07, 2009

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