Friday, March 09, 2012

Lead Plaintiff In Health Care Reform Suit Files For Bankruptcy With Medical Debt

By Annie-Rose Strasser/Think Progress
The lead plaintiff in the legal case against the Affordable Care Act filed for bankruptcy after accruing nearly $5,000 in medical debt. According to the Los Angeles Times, plaintiff Mary Brown was uninsured last fall when her husband’s medical bills stacked up to $4,500. That, combined with other debt they had accumulated, led the couple to file for bankruptcy:
Brown, reached by telephone Thursday, said the medical bills were her husband’s. “I always paid my bills, as well as my medical bills,” she said angrily. “I never said medical insurance is not a necessity. It should be anyone’s right to what kind of health insurance they have.
“I believe that anyone has unforeseen things that happen to them that are beyond their control,” Brown said. “Who says I don’t have insurance right now?”
Brown “doesn’t have insurance. She doesn’t want to pay for it. And she doesn’t want the government to tell her she has to have it,” according to Karen Harned, a lawyer for the National Federation of Independent Business.
Brown may be focused on health care choices, but American taxpayers have another concern. Sixty-two percent of people who file for personal bankruptcy do so because of medical bills, placing those debt burdens on the American taxpayer. And while Brown’s husband may have run up his medical bills, others take the less medically responsible road and decline preventive treatment so they can avoid high medical bills in the short term (but risk more problems later).
Other opponents of the Affordable Care Act may argue for a consumer-driven market on health care plans, the fact is that the plans people chose, or their choice not to have one, effects everyone. The Affordable Care Act, on the other hand, may already be slowing health care costs.
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