On Tuesday, July 28, the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Administrative and Commercial Law held a hearing on the topic of whether the U.S. healthcare system is bankrupting Americans. Among those appearing before the House Judiciary Subcommittee, the hearing centered on testimony from legal experts representing the Consumer Bankruptcy Project (CBP). In his testimony, University of Michigan Law School Professor John Pottow commented,

“Why are the elder filing so much more now for bankruptcy? One important reason appears to be medical bankruptcy.”

Based on a preliminary review of the data, the Consumer Bankruptcy Project reached the following conclusions about “medical bankruptcies” and elder bankruptcy filers:

  • 39% specifically identified medical problem of the debtor or spouse or another family member as a reason for filing bankruptcy.
  • 32% specifically said medical bills were a reason for bankruptcy.
  • 30% incurred more than $5,000 or 10% of annual household income in out-of-pocket medical bills.
  • 25% incurred more than $5,000 in out-of-pocket medical bills.
  • 11% lost two or more weeks of wages because of lost time from work to deal with a medical problem for themselves or a family member.
  • 4% mortgaged home to pay for medical bills.

Specifically, the hearing focused on the CBP study on medical bankruptcies and contained research on rising elder Americans filing for medical bankruptcy.

The testimony of University of Michigan Law Professor John Pottow, which contains research on rising elder Americans filing for medical bankruptcy, can be read below.:

Under Federal law, all consumers are entitled to an annual copy of their medical report files from the nationwide specialty consumer reporting agencies.

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