Saturday, March 12, 2005

Harvard Study: 1/2 of Bankruptcies Are Due to Medical Bills

From the Lawyers Weekly USA article:
Researchers from Harvard's law and medical schools said the findings underscore the inadequacy of many private insurance plans that offer worst-case catastrophic coverage, but little financial security for less severe illnesses, according to The Associated Press.
"Unless you're Bill Gates, you're just one serious illness away from bankruptcy," said Dr. David Himmelstein, the study's lead author and an associate professor of medicine. "Most of the medically bankrupt were average Americans who happened to get sick."

I know my fellow conservatives like to emphasize "personal responsibility" as the antidote to bankruptcy (the impetus behind sweeping new federal legislation, right?) but it seems that "responsibility" would only apply in the other half of the cases, no? It's easier to see the social value of punitive damages against firms that contribute to serious illnesses through the manufacture of asbestos, environmental toxins, etc.