Despite Promises of ACA, Study Shows Two-Thirds of Personal Bankruptcies Still Caused by Illness and Medical Bills
February 8, 2019 at 7:03 AM - Views: 43 #21741CharlesParticipant
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“We need to move ahead from the ACA to a single-payer, Medicare for All system that assures first-dollar coverage for everyone.”
by Julia Conley, staff writer – February 7 2019
A new study shows how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has failed to solve one of the major crises in the American for-profit health insurance system that it was supposed to help eradicate: bankruptcies related to high medical bills and other healthcare-related costs.
The Consumer Bankruptcy Project (CBP) examined 910 bankruptcies that were filed between 2013 and 2016 and found that, similarly to before the ACA was passed in 2010, 66.5 percent of the bankruptcies were brought about by medical bills families were unable to afford or income loss due to illnesses.
About 530,000 American households continue to see their finances wiped out each year due to medical costs, according to the report, which was published in the American Journal of Public Health.
“Unless you’re Bill Gates, you’re just one serious illness away from bankruptcy,” said Dr. David Himmelstein, the study’s lead author. “For middle-class Americans, health insurance offers little protection. Most of us have policies with so many loopholes, copayments, and deductibles that illness can put you in the poorhouse. And even the best job-based health insurance often vanishes when prolonged illness causes job loss—just when families need it most.”
The only solution to medical bankruptcies is a Medicare for All system, said Physicians for a National Health Plan (PNHP), one of several national organizations that have led the fight for universal, government-funded healthcare for decades.
“The ACA was a step forward, but 29 million remain uncovered, and the epidemic of under-insurance is out of control,” said Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, a member of PNHP’s Board of Directors, in a statement. “We need to move ahead from the ACA to a single-payer, Medicare for All system that assures first-dollar coverage for everyone.”
The study came out a day after the Commonwealth Fund released its own findings on the post-ACA healthcare system—namely, that more Americans with employer-based healthcare plans are under-insured, without continuous coverage all year, than were before the law was passed.
Medical bills contributed to about 58 percent of bankruptcies between 2013 and 2016, while income loss due to illnesses or injuries were to blame for about 44 percent; many bankruptcy filers cited both as causes. The study’s results were “virtually unchanged” from a similar report the CBP compiled from 2001 to 2007, PNHP said.
The report “found no evidence that the ACA reduced the proportion of bankruptcies driven by medical problems: 65.5 percent of debtors cited a medical contributor to their bankruptcy in the period prior to the ACA’s implementation as compared to 67.5 percent in the three years after the law came into effect,” PNHP said in a statement.
On social media, PNHP pointed out that the high prevalence of medical cost-related bankruptcies was often cited as a reason to urgently pass the ACA during congressional debates over the the law in 2010….
Lawmakers cited medical bankruptcy when passing the ACA, but new @AMJPublicHealth research finds that the problem persists. 2/3 of bankruptcy filers cite illness and medical bills as contributing factors. We need *real* financial protection. #SinglePayer https://t.co/vpJUKiIdAj
— PNHP (@PNHP) February 7, 2019
Bernie: "Not Me. Us"
February 8, 2019 at 7:55 AM #21752HIP56948Participant
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My wife and I certainly don’t worry too much about health issues or cost. We’re on Medicare with part a, b, c and all the other cost saving plans. (We’re retired)
What we do worry about is the incredible stress and life-destroying scenarios that most of the populace has to endure. Christ, Americans are worked to death, get little time off, mostly lousy pay and then are subjected to the whims of their reality and genes. Our right-wing capitalistic system causes great stress which in turn can lead to great health problems both mentally and physically but have no fear my dear fellow Americans, when you finally do break down, our unique health-care system is right at your finger-tips to help you cope with even MORE stress in your lives. Just “Come on down, you’re the next contestant” ….IF the price is right and your wallet/bank account is full of the paper that drives our very existence.
What a disgusting unfair system.
Crawling through reality.
February 8, 2019 at 8:26 AM #21761gordyflParticipant
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For the past twenty-five years I have been visiting friends in Canada. Each time I returned, I would ask myself “Why can’t we have that” – referring to their healthcare system.
Now, like you, I have Medicare, but I still can’t forget the uncertainty I felt while I was in the “free market” healthcare system.
February 8, 2019 at 3:16 PM #21894MistaPParticipant
- Total Posts: 3,075
if we got it, we’d like it, and throw out the people blocking it: simple as that
besides it keeps us on our knees, not our feet
I remember how shocked one BC skiier’s family was when not only did her daughter die in Colorado, but returned with a $200,000 bill for it
February 8, 2019 at 11:09 AM #21825D503Participant
- Total Posts: 326
The ACA was a boondoggle for the insurance companies.
Health Insurance, followed by health care costs have gone off the rails.
Having Medicare part A & B, I worry about the 20%(not to mention the deductible) if a serious
event were to happen. Costs need to be regulated, after all the AMA has a monopoly on MDs and the like.
Gave up on part D after premiums rise yearly. Humana demanded a 45% increase in monthly premiums this year. They offer no benefit to me, as pharmacies are already cheaper for what I need. So, where is the new $$ going? To increase the profits of Humana. I guess the CEO needs a raise.
For a little history for the unenlightened, healthcare costs started going ballistic right after HER efforts to ‘implement’ new healthcare rules in 1993. HER committee never really did anything but start a lot of fear amongst all involved.
"Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent." - Asimov; "If you push something hard enough, it will fall over." - Fud's First Law of Opposition
February 8, 2019 at 1:10 PM #21855Ohio BarbarianModerator
- Total Posts: 21,869
The Health Insurance Corporation Enrichment Act was never intended to help most Americans, only health insurance companies.
It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don't want and get it.--Eugene Debs
You can jail a revolutionary, but you can't jail the revolution.--Fred Hampton
February 8, 2019 at 1:27 PM #21863BluesuedeshoesParticipant
- Total Posts: 592
Lo Blo Jo (Biden) will fix this. No more bankruptcy: you work forever, and turn your check over
to the Health Group. Moreover, they will take your house when you die.
February 10, 2019 at 6:26 AM #22594eridaniParticipant
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Medical Bankruptcy: Still Common Despite the Affordable Care Act
Medical bankruptcy has garnered public attention because it resonates with the abuse that Americans—including many middle-class Americans—suffer at the hands of our health care finance system. Despite gains in coverage and access to care from the ACA, our findings suggest that it did not change the proportion of bankruptcies with medical causes.
Moreover, medical costs continue to outpace incomes, 29 million remain uninsured, and many of those with health insurance face unpredictable and unaffordable out-of-pocket costs as copayments and deductibles ratchet up. And few Americans have adequate disability coverage, leaving them vulnerable to illness-related income loss that amplifies the financial distress caused by medical bills.
Although death is inevitable, good public policy can ensure that financial suffering from illness is not.
Comment by Don McCanne of PNHP: The Affordable Care Act did not change the proportion of bankruptcies with medical causes. “The share of debtors reporting a medical contributor before the ACA’s January 1, 2014 implementation (65.5%) and after implementation (67.5%) was similar.”
A well designed single payer Medicare for All program would essentially eliminate medical bills as a contributing cause to bankruptcy though we would still need more effective programs that would replace lost income due to illness – income that would be required to meet basic needs.
The Affordable Care Act has not provided enough financial protection for those with health care needs, and merely adding to the insurance market another public option, as many politicians are suggesting, will do essentially nothing to reduce the scourge of medical bankruptcy. We need to enact and implement Single Payer Medicare for All if we want to seriously address this problem.
Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction
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