Written By: Donald D. Hackney, J.D., Daniel L. Friesner, Ph.D., Erica H. Johnson, Ph.D.
Medical bankruptcy refers to individuals with serious medical conditions who feel compelled to file for bankruptcy to seek relief from their medical debts. Noticeably lacking in the literature is a consistent, evidence-based criterion to define who may be classified as medically bankrupt. A more concrete definition would allow policy makers to understand the magnitude of the problem and allow financial counselors to better inform certain households about seeking bankruptcy protection when faced with medical bills. This study uses data drawn from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court’s Eastern Washington District to create an empirical profile of bankruptcy petitioners with medical debt. We then identify those characteristics statistically associated with being “at-risk” of a medical bankruptcy to better understand and define medical bankruptcy. Keywords: consumer bankruptcy, financial insolvency, medical bankruptcy, medical debtsDownload Journal