Bankruptcies rise as medical debt mounts

The World

In this weak economy, more and more Americans are filing for bankruptcy. Contrary to what you might expect, the biggest reason people are doing so isn’t excessive spending or job losses. According to a recent study, 62 percent of the people who file for bankruptcy do so because of medical debt. After legislation in 2005 removed the distinction between bankruptcy caused by credit problems and medical expenses, many more people ? even those with health insurance ? found themselves losing their homes after catastrophic medical events wrecked their finances. We ask bankruptcy expert Henry Sommer and The Takeaway’s Washington correspondent, Todd Zwillich, to explain this phenomenon. We also speak with Kerry Burns, a social worker who is struggling to pay back medical debt.

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