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Study: Medical bankruptcies may not be as common as thought

March 21, 2018

Medical bills can push patients over the financial cliff, but a new study says this may not happen as often as previous research suggests.

A New England Journal of Medicine report released Wednesday estimates that hospitalizations cause only about 4 percent of personal bankruptcies among non-elderly U.S. adults.

This contrasts with previous research that pointed to medical reasons as a trigger for more than 60 percent of U.S. bankruptcies.

Researchers in the new study tracked the credit reports of more than a half million adults under 65 in California who had a hospitalization between 2003 and 2007 that wasn’t tied to childbirth.

They found that hospitalizations clearly forced some patients into bankruptcy in the years following their stay, but it may not happen as frequently as other research indicates.

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