Exposing the Myth of Widespread Medical Bankruptcies


In 2005 and 2009, Elizabeth Warren and her co-authors released two papers claiming that more than 50 percent of all bankruptcy filings in the U.S. were caused by medical debts. I wrote about the problems with these studies when they first came out, and even testified in Congress against reading too much into the findings of these studies because they suffered from several biases. Now an academic study published in the New England Journal of Medicine is skeptical of these results as well. The study tracks a stratified sample of adults between the ages of 25 and 64 who were admitted to the hospital for non-birth-related reasons between 2003 and 2007. It finds that fewer than 4 percent of hospitalizations resulted in bankruptcies, far lower than the 2009 study’s claimed 62 percent.