The August 13 edition of the Orlando Business Journal reports that profits for Central Florida hospitals are up by 88% for 2009. The untold story is how medical debt and illness continue to be a primary cause of financial crisis for families who must resort to bankruptcy protection for their medical debts. While the health care industry in Orlando enjoyed this surge in profits, the American Journal of Medicine reported that illness and medical debt were the cause of 62% of all personal bankruptcies filed during 2007 in the United States. Most of these medical debtors were well educated, owned homes and had middle class incomes. Astonishingly, most were insured before their medical crisis. This Harvard Medical School study showed that since 2001, the number of medical bankruptcies had increased by nearly 50%.
While Central Florida medical institutions rejoice at their fattened bottom line, Orlando families continue to seek bankruptcy relief for the unmanageable debt inflicted upon them by getting sick.
“Unless you’re Bill Gates, you’re just one serious illness away from bankruptcy,” said Dr. David Himmelstein, the study’s lead author and an associate professor of medicine. “Most of the medically bankrupt were average Americans who happened to get sick.”
You can read this study at www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/documents/american_journal_of_medicine_09.pdf.
Fortunately, medical debt can be discharged in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceeding. Bankruptcy lawyers in Orlando are able to help Central Florida residents who are burdened with medical debt. But, can’t we find a way to care for our sick without sending them to bankruptcy court?