One of the most persistent myths concerning our health care system involves the notion that medical bills are forcing huge numbers of Americans into bankruptcy. Sally Pipes notes that this myth has reared its ugly head once again:
This year, a whopping 1.25 million Americans are expected to file for bankruptcy. That’s about equal to the entire population of New Hampshire. Ask the president and his allies whom to blame, and they’ll point to health care. President Obama has claimed that the cost of health care causes a bankruptcy every 30 seconds.
Where did Obama get these figures? Here’s a hint. Remember any recent news stories about a politician who falsely claimed to be a native American?
Proponents of the health-cost-bankruptcy theory tend to cite a Harvard study that blames high medical bills for some 62 percent of American bankruptcies. The study’s authors include Elizabeth Warren, a former Obama Administration official and current Democratic candidate for Senate from Massachusetts.
That’s right. This is the same Elizabeth Warren who also practiced law without a license. Why should we doubt her word?
Researchers who are not on Team Obama have come to different conclusions. A study published in the journal Health Affairs reviewed Justice Department data and discovered that among Americans who cited medical debt as a contributing factor in their bankruptcy filing, only 12 to 13 percent of their total debts were medical.
In other words, the findings of the Harvard study didn’t hold up under the scrutiny of objective statisticians. Warren and its other authors cherry-picked the data in order to support their advocacy of universal government-run health care.
[HT Paul Hsieh]