A new report was released today found that only 17%, not 46%, of bankruptcies are caused by medical bills.
What's the deal? Is this just another case of the CW being very wrong?
It appears that the discrepancy comes from quibbling over the source behind the "cause". The first study, done by Harvard researchers, surveyed over 1,700 people asking them if "medical bills or illness caused their bankruptcy".
Unfortunately, they didn't make much of a distinction between whether illness made them lose money or whether it was the bills themselves. The new research flushed these groups out.
"It is insufficient to show that medical problems are associated with bankruptcy," Dranove and Millenson write, adding, "one must determine whether, and to what extent, medical spending causes bankruptcies." Dranove and Millenson note that for the 17% whose bankruptcy could be tied to medical expenditure, it could not be determined whether medical costs were the primary cause of those bankruptcies.
They're right; it does matter if the actual bills were the direct cause of bankruptcy. Even so, no one should be in a position that medical bills (an actual necessity unlike a bigger house or more expensive car) cause their bankruptcy. Especially 17% of bankruptcies.