Saturday, October 03, 2009

Medical Bankruptcies | a follow-up

A couple of months ago I wrote about the steady increase of medical bankruptcies in the US:

• 8 percent in 1981

• nearly half of all bankruptcies in 2001

• a staggering 62 percent of US bankruptcies attributed to medical crises in 2007

But 62 percent of what? How many 2007 US bankruptcies were medical bankruptcies?

Answer: 497,140. US bankruptcies were up 40 percent year over year in 2007 and almost half a million of them were precipitated by medical crises.

US bankruptcies jumped another 32 percent in 2008 topping one million. Every business day in 2008 there were more than 3,000 bankruptcy filings, with things getting worse as the year wore on.

If the 62% number from the American Journal of Medicine study held up from 2007 to 2008 (I don't have data that speaks to that one way or the other, but if that number is within the range of accuracy), that pushes the number of medical bankruptcies last year above half a million of our friends, family and neighbors.

My friends in Canada and Europe shake their heads in disbelief that we permit such economic and human devastation. I join them.