Medical bankruptcies decline

Personal bankruptcy filings are down 50 percent over the past six years. Some of that decline is due to the Affordable Care Act. Consumer Reports is out with a new analysis that looks at how the ACA may have helped millions of Americans from taking the extreme step of filing for bankruptcy.

Courts never ask people why they are filing, but many bankruptcy and legal experts Consumer Reports spoke with agree that medical bills had been a leading cause of personal bankruptcy before health insurance expanded under the ACA. Medical bills are often unexpected and large and unavoidable, so people who don’t have insurance can run up massive debt in a relatively short period of time.

Since 2010, personal bankruptcy filings have dropped by about 50 percent. Experts say some of that is due to an improved economy and laws passed in 2005 that make it harder to declare bankruptcy, but nearly all the experts Consumer Reports interviewed also point to expanded health insurance as a major driver of the decline.

Consumer Reports found that the ACA’s provisions for mandatory coverage of pre-existing conditions and against annual and lifetime payout caps has helped consumers — especially Americans with serious medical issues — avoid bankruptcy.

Consumer Reports has more health care coverage at ConsumerReports.org.

All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2017 Consumer Reports, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumer.org.

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