By 2007, that percentage had increased to 62% (!) -- usually from medical debts (more than 90% of cases), and the small remainder from loss of income.
Using a conservative definition, 62.1% of all bankruptcies in 2007 were medical; 92% of these medical debtors had medical debts over $5000, or 10% of pretax family income. The rest met criteria for medical bankruptcy because they had lost significant income due to illness or mortgaged a home to pay medical bills. Most medical debtors were well educated, owned homes, and had middle-class occupations. Three quarters had health insurance. Using identical definitions in 2001 and 2007, the share of bankruptcies attributable to medical problems rose by 49.6%. In logistic regression analysis controlling for demographic factors, the odds that a bankruptcy had a medical cause was 2.38-fold higher in 2007 than in 2001. --The American Journal of Medicine.
The problems of health care in America are actually quite, quite simple, and well understood.
Private insurers spend significant money, time and effort screening out and denying insurance to people likely to need more than occasional health care.
They try to insure only those who are healthy.
They also spend a lot of money for staff to work hard to deny insurance claims on any possible technical reason, and carefully write policies to shift more and more of the normal costs of care off their list of insured benefits and onto individuals and families. Many of these technical exceptions are hard for customers to understand when reading the policies.
The other major health care cost problem is doctors and care facilities ordering more tests and procedures only in order to increase profits.
This is done under cover of the initial rationale that doctors are trying to be careful in order to avoid being sued. This nice On-Point program has a knowledgeable doctor (Dr. Atul Gawande) travel to similar West Texas cities to discover why health care in one costs twice what it does in the other very similar city. It's strictly about increasing profits.
(One of many shocking parts begins at 10 and 1/2 minutes into the program -- and that's only a tip of the iceberg part. Also, here is a written article on this in the The New Yorker.)
Increasing profits even while bankrupting previously financially sound families.
These two major problems are clear and well-understood.
As clear as day.
Smaller problems are used to obscure and distract attention away from these primary problems.
Like the transfer of taxpayer wealth to bank investors, we have a situation where true but misleading reasons are presented in order to hide the reality of what is happening.
Health insurers don't want public competition. And a certain number of doctors do not want competition.
They make big campaign contributions to buy influence and votes.
Our Congress is compromised.
And it's been this way so long it seems normal.