The Slippery Relationship Between Bankruptcy And Medical Debt

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In 2005, Senator Elizabeth Warren – then a professor – published an academic paper along with David Himmelstein, Deborah Thorne and Steffie Woolhandler, in the journal Health Affairs that made a very bold claim: Over 40 percent of all U.S. bankruptcies came as the result of medical problems suffered by the bankrupt.

Four years later, in 2009, they published an update to that figure – and it looked much, much worse. Medical bills were actually responsible for more than


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