Just got finished reading a stunning report on the state of health care in the United States.
Researchers found that more than 60 percent of all bankruptcies filed in the US were due to medical bills. More than 75 percent of these bankrupt families had health insurance but still were overwhelmed by their medical debts.
“Using a conservative definition, 62.1 percent of all bankruptcies in 2007 were medical; 92 percent of these medical debtors had medical debts over $5,000, or 10 percent of pretax family income,” said researchers from Harvard Medical & Law School and Ohio University.
The researchers surveyed 2,134 random families who filed for bankruptcy between January and April in 2007, before the current recession began.
They used public bankruptcy court records and survey 1,032 respondents by telephone.
While only 29 percent directly blamed medical bills for their bankruptcy, 62 percent had medical bills that totaled more than 10 percent of family income, said an illness was responsible, had lost income due to illness or some other medical factor.
“Among common diagnoses, non stroke neurologic illnesses such as multiple sclerosis were associated with the highest out-of-pocket expenditures (mean $34,167), followed by diabetes ($26,971), injuries ($25,096), stroke ($23,380), mental illnesses ($23,178), and heart disease ($21,955),” the researchers wrote.
The study was reported in the American Journal of Medicine.
Reading this report, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is completely insane not to have a single-payer health insurance program in the United States.
This is a direct result of the health care industry becoming a “for-profit” business. Insurance companies, with the assistance of their allies at the American Medical Association and in Washington, have profited off the backs of sick people in order to control the health care industry.
Proposals of a tax-credit for families or to tax health benefits are merely band-aids on a gunshot wound. They do not address the problem of poor health coverage, pre-existing conditions exclusions and doctors fighting with insurance companies over life saving treatment.
The “status-quo” is irretrievably broken and a single-payer health insurance plan is the only answer to the crisis.