Social Consequences of Private Health Insurance


Ian Urbina. In the treatment of diabetes. New York Times, January 11, 2006, p.1

Average worker changes insurance policy every six years.


“Each year, 2 million Americans — those who file and their dependents — face the double disaster of illness and bankruptcy…A quarter of all employers cancel coverage the day you leave work because of a disabling illness; another quarter do so in less than a year.


Himmelstein DU, et al. Illness and injury as contributors to bankruptcy. Health Affairs, 2 February 2005

David Himmelstein, et al. MarketWatch: Illness and injury as contributors to bankruptcy. Health Affairs Web Exclusive, February 2, 2005, pp.W5-62

“In 2001 1.458 million American families filed for bankruptcy…About half cited medical causes, which indicates that 1.9–2.2 million Americans (filers plus dependents) experienced medical bankruptcy annually… 75.7 percent had insurance at the onset of illness.” 700,000 medical bankruptcies in US annually.

Himmelstein DU, Thorne D, Warren E, Woolhandler S. Medical Bankruptcy in the United States, 2007: Results of a National Study. American Journal of Medicine, 2009;122:741-6

quoted in Los Angeles Times, June 4, 2009

Medical bills led to two-thirds of bankruptcies in 2007, 2/3 had insurance


VANESSA FUHRMANS.  ”BILLING BATTLE; Fights Over Health Claims Spawn a New Arms Race; Insurers and Doctors Try for Upper Hand; Firms Help Both Sides.”  The Wall Street Journal  (Weds., February 14, 2007):  A1 & A18.

US insurance companies initially deny 30% of claims.


Arthur Kellerman, M.D., Associate Dean, Emory University, School of Medicine; Washington Post 9/29/2009.

“In the United States today, we give you all the care you can afford, whether or not you need it, as opposed to all the care you need, whether or not you can afford it.”