Illness, Injury and Medical Expenses Contributed to More Than 60 Percent of 2007 Bankruptcies & Less Than a Quarter Were Uninsured

From 2007 to 2009, researchers led by faculty at Harvard and Ohio universities studied a national random sample of personal bankruptcy cases to determine the extent to which medical problems contributed to the individuals' financial difficulties.

The research focused on bankruptcies filed in 2007; the research team used the 2007 study to update a similar, smaller study of bankruptcies filed in 2001 (see Program Results Report ID# 042425).

Key Findings

  • Illness, injury and medical expenses contributed to 62.1 percent of the bankruptcy cases studied from 2007.
  • The proportion of bankruptcy filers citing medical-related factors increased almost 50 percent between 2001 and 2007.
  • Most of the 2007 respondents—about 70 percent—had health insurance coverage at the time they filed for bankruptcy.
  • The federal bankruptcy reform law passed in 2007 did not seem to have a major impact on medical bankruptcies.