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Does lack of health insurance make personal bankruptcy likely?

For many Wisconsin families, the current changes regarding health insurance coverage mean changes to their finances, for better or worse. Some experts are questioning age-old wisdom about the necessity of health insurance. Specifically, some studies have questioned the fact that lack of insurance increases the chance of personal bankruptcy.

Studies have provided very different results and conclusions when investigating how bankruptcy is linked to medical costs. For examples, one study claimed that as many as 54.5 percent of bankruptcies filed in 2001 were attributed to financial issues centered around medical bills. In 2007, another study was done, and it found that 62.1 percent of bankruptcies could be linked to medical costs. However, several expert studies have refuted these claims. Studies provided to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce recently noted that medical bankruptcies may only account for up to 17 percent of personal bankruptcies. That's a far cry from either 54.5 percent or 62.1 percent.

A concern for many is the high cost of health insurance coverage, even given new mandates and aid. They have to weigh the fact that they may only claim a few hundred dollars in costs when they are paying thousands per year to have coverage.

However, health insurance is about protection from major events that could run into the tens of thousands of dollars. People must make a choice between planning for catastrophic events -- though they may not happen -- or saving premium amounts.

Whichever choice is made, financial issues are a fact of life. For those who experience personal financial crisis -- medical or otherwise -- understanding how bankruptcy plays a role in recovery is essential to making the best money decisions.

Source: Forbes, "How Risky Is It To Be Uninsured? Part II: Financial Risk" Chris Conover, Apr. 14, 2014

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