Sunday, May 11, 2014

Personal and Medical Bankruptcies: A Follow Up

Lloyd Stires has a great series of posts on the decline of mortality in Massachusetts compared to similar surrounding counties.  They are linked in related posts below.  

I've also received a nice response to my post on medical bankruptcies.  Here is a follow up.

I have received comments from Thomas M Miovas of that more exact methods are needed to determine the cause of these bankruptcies.  I agree completely.  However in the lack of these more comprehensive studies pilot work can be done to aid in planning these studies.

Assuming the prerecession estimate of 62.1% of all bankruptcies still holds (which may be a shaky assumption due to the state of the economy), we can multiply that percentage by the national increase in the rate of personal bankruptcies from '07-'11 of 62.15%.  We would find that there would be a 38.6% increase in medical bankruptcies and a 23.6% increase in the number of nonmedical bankruptcies over the same period assuming the rate of personal bankruptcies is constant.

We can also look at the rate of increase in personal bankruptcies in states expanding medicaid vs those who are not.  There is a somewhat higher increase in the rates in states expanding medicaid as can be seen in the boxplot below.  However there is no statistically significant difference between the two groups of states.

Group Statistics

Expanding medicaid
Std. Deviation
Std. Error Mean
% change in bankruptcy
not participating or considering not participating
participating or leaning

These types of analyses can provide indications of meaningful underlying patterns for future research.


Adams County HC4ALLPA member Becky Spoon has informed me that there was a study of medical bankruptcies in Massachusetts after 2006.  There was a decrease in the rate from 59.3% to 52.9% from 2007 to 2009.  Over the same period there was a 49.5% increase in the number of total bankruptcies.  Multiplying the study rate by the % increase suggests that there is about a 25.8% increase in medical bankruptcies and a 23.7% increase in other types of personal bankruptcies.  These increases are smaller than that of the nation as a whole but the problem still persists.

 **Related Posts**

The Affordable Care Act Having an Impact in Some States but not Pennsylvania

National, State, & County Uninsured Estimates

Health Insurance and Mortality, Part 1


Health Insurance and Mortality, Part 2


The David Roberts Family Fund