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Many Americans File Bankruptcy Because of Medical Bills

Charles Simic has written an opinion piece on the New York Review of Books, in which he says health care is our "new American sadism," and refers to a TIME Magazine article about the problem of medical bills in our country.

Indeed, medical bills can be a major problem. Simic cites a statistic claiming that a full 60 percent of people in the U.S. file personal bankruptcy (like Chapter 7 bankruptcy) because of medical bills. (The number doesn't seem inaccurate, given our personal experience representing people facing overwhelming debt.)

Simic goes on to indict the profit motive itself, which could turn off those more business-minded folks. He calls attention to everything from payday loans and for-profit prisons to financial trading and war profiteering, trotting these out as examples of the profit motive in this country run amok.

Whether or not wealth is "admired above any other human endeavor," as Simic argues, what's certainly true is that the cost of health care, even for an individual or family with health insurance, can spell financial ruin.

We're fond of saying - because it's true - that "financial ruin" isn't the end of the world. The legal system has a working mechanism in place (bankruptcy) to help people get out from under overwhelming debt, after bad things happen to them, like the loss of a job or an illness that wracks up huge medical bills (or both).

It's not the end of the world. It's a fresh start.

Source: Health Care: The New American Sadism

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