MA health reforms did not reduce medical bankruptcies

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A new study finds that health reform in MA, including the individual mandate, did little to reduce bankruptcies due to medical bills. The number of medical bankruptcies grew from 7,504 in 2007 to 10,093 in 2009; the proportion of bankruptcies due to medical bills dipped insignificantly from 59.3% to 52.9%. Insurance is not enough — almost nine of ten debtors and their dependents had insurance at the time of filing. Another study confirms what we’ve seen in calls to our office for assistance – patients in financial distress will prioritize paying medical bills over almost any other debt, including credit cards and home equity loans. It is likely that the impact of medical bills in bankruptcies is under-counted. Reforms will not work without vigilant oversight of the insurance industry and meaningful, affordable coverage.
Ellen Andrews