July 17, 2007

Written Testimony on Medical Debt and Bankruptcy

  • Todd Zywicki

    Senior Fellow, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics
Key materials
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Highlights

The Issue

  • Medical debt and medical problems are a source of concern for many American families today, and sadly these problems sometimes land American families on the steps of America's bankruptcy courts. 

Our Findings

  • There is no evidence that there has been an increase in the frequency or severity of job loss or income interruption as a result of health problems.
  • There is little evidence that medical debt is a major causal factor in bankruptcy filings.
  • There is no evidence that lack of medical insurance is a major causal factor in bankruptcy filings.
  • Current law adequately addresses the issue when it does arise, paying consideration to the income status of the individual filing for bankruptcy.

Recommendations

  • The current Bankruptcy Code is well-equipped to deal with the challenges of medical bankruptcies; if in fact medical expenses are on the rise, bankruptcy law is not the appropriate place to address the issue. Bankruptcy law should be concerned with striking an appropriate balance between debtors and creditors, including those in the health care system.  Current law accommodates these concerns well and there is no need for further consideration at this time.