Will Health Insurance Keep You From Going Bankrupt?

Think your health insurance will protect you from going broke when the unthinkable happens? A new Harvard study reveals otherwise…

Imagine this: You’re chugging along through life, and suddenly everything comes to a screeching halt.

You’re diagnosed with diabetes. The medical bills start stacking up. Suddenly, you’re facing out-of-pocket costs of $26,000.


"That couldn’t happen to me," you might be thinking, with a sigh of relief. "I have health insurance."

But I didn’t mention—that $26,000 up there? That’s the average out-of-pocket cost for people WITH insurance.

So says a new study out of Harvard. It revealed that health problems caused 62% of bankruptcies in America in 2007. Even more frightening—the vast majority of those people (78%) had medical insurance at the start of their illness. And over 60% had private coverage.

On average, the people with private insurance reported out- of-pocket medical bills upwards of $17,000. People with diabetes reported bills over $26,000. And people with neurological illnesses such as MS fared even worse—being asked to cough up nearly $35,000.

The lead author of the study pointed to the grim truth—so many of our health insurance policies have "so many loopholes, co-payments, and deductibles that illness can put you in the poorhouse."

This leads to the inevitable question: What exactly is your health insurance doing for you? Just this morning I had a phone call from a friend. She was raving mad at her insurance company for refusing to cover preventative care— care that has the potential to save everyone involved a lot of money further down the road.

So she was left with high bills and the sinking feeling that she isn’t really protected, despite faithfully paying for coverage every month.

But her insurance company isn’t really out to protect her, is it? It’s out to make as much money as possible off her, even if that means leaving her bankrupt should tragedy strike.

In a round-about way, this got me thinking about the bad rap natural medicine gets in the mainstream media. Especially recently—I’ve seen more headlines decrying the evils of natural medicine in the past week than I have in the past 3 months combined!

Here we have something that’s often a lot cheaper than mainstream medicine, and IT WORKS. But your insurance company can’t make a buck off it, and neither can Big Pharma. So is it any wonder that it’s dismissed as "snake oil," and we stay caught in the mainstream machine?


"Study Links Medical Costs and Personal Bankruptcy." BusinessWeek (www.businessweek.com), 6/4/09.

"Most Bankruptcies Caused By Health Problems Suffered By People With Health Insurance." The Consumerist (www.consumerist.com), 6/7/09.

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Christine O'Brien

Christine O'Brien writes the e-letter Health eTips for Dr. Wright's Nutrition and Healing.

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Christine O'Brien

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  1. Anonymous says

    barry, you don’t care about the smoker or the non-smoker
    you just care about saving money for your company.If you cared you would start a non-smoking therpy group for your company.You can’t stop people from smoking!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Barry Sandler says

    I disagree with Dr. Campbell. Smoking is very bad for your health and your pocket (based on the cost of the pack). I implemented a no-smoking policy in a factory where I was the Director of Human Resources. When I negotiated a new contract with our health insurance company, the increase was very low due to our no-smoking policy.
    So, I’m very happy that our government is working to control smoking.

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