Less than one quarter of debtors—whether medical or nonmedical— were uninsured when they filed for bankruptcy; an additional 7% had uninsured family members (Table 3). Medically bankrupted families, however, had more often experienced a lapse in coverage during the 2 years before filing (40.0% vs 34.1%, P = .005).
In multivariate analysis, being uninsured at filing did not predict a medical cause of bankruptcy, while a gap in coverage did (odds ratio [OR] = 1.35, P = .002). Other predictors included: older age (OR = 1.016/year, P = .0001), married (OR=1.59, P=.0001), female (OR=1.34, P=.002), larger household (OR = 1.97/household member, P = .01), and lower income quartile (OR = 1.30, P = .0001).
Medical debtors’ court records identified more debt owed directly to doctors and hospitals than did nonmedical debtors’, a mean of $4988 vs $256, respectively (P = .0001). Medical debtors with coverage gaps owed providers a mean of $8338, vs $2740 (P = .0001) for medical debtors with continuous coverage. Nonmedical debtors had few medical debts, averaging under $300 regardless of insurance status. (Medical debts financed through credit cards or other borrowing, or owed to collection agencies are not included because they cannot be identified through court records.)
Now that really surprises me. In my anecdotal experiences, medical bankruptcies happen because people without insurance get into a catastrophic health predicament. The instances I'm familiar with are two babies being born with serious medical complications to families without health insurance and a life-threatening injury to a family without health insurance. I stand corrected. Whether or not a person has medical coverage has no correlation to their bankruptcy filing. Beware anecdotal evidence.
It does however bolster my firm belief that whatever we want to do to improve health care in the United States, forking over money to insurance companies is NOT the answer.
EDIT: purely cosmetic change to post