The true explanation why most Americans are broke and what you need to do differently

Two-thirds of Americans who declare bankruptcy identify medical problems as a primary cause to their financial predicament as the primary reason for their decision.
Research indicates that the adoption of the Affordable Care Act has not resulted in an improvement in the situation, despite the fact that high healthcare costs have traditionally been a contributing factor in individuals declaring bankruptcy.
According to the findings of one study, the vast majority of consumers are unaware that the protection provided by their health insurance may not be enough.

In spite of this, the percentage of bankrupt individuals who cited medical problems as a contributing factor in their decision to file for bankruptcy actually increased after the law was enacted, from 65.5 percent prior to the law’s adoption to 67.5 percent in the three years following the law’s adoption.

According to Dr. David U. Himmelstein, a prominent professor at Hunter College and the founder of the advocacy organization Physicians for a National Health Program, who was also a co-author of the report, the reason for the lack of progress was insufficient health care insurance.

“Unless you’re Jeff Bezos, people don’t have very good alternatives, because the insurance that is available and affordable to people, or that most people’s employers provide them, is not adequate protection if you’re sick,” Himmelstein said.

The majority of households do not have sufficient savings to cover even a relatively minor crisis or emergency, much less the thousands of dollars in unforeseen medical expenses. According to the findings of a recent survey conducted by the personal finance website Bankrate, just forty percent of Americans have sufficient savings to handle an unexpected bill of one thousand dollars.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks during an event to introduce the “Medicare for All Act of 2017” on Capitol Hill on September 13, 2017 in Washington.Yuri Gripas / Reuters

To help combat this problem, Physicians for a National Health Program in 2019 started advocating for a national Medicare for All program that would broaden insurance coverage for Americans.

“Health insurance is only very partial protection,” Himmelstein said. “I liken it to a hospital gown that looks like coverage until you actually inspect it.”

The research included 910 Americans who filed for bankruptcy between 2013 and 2016.

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