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How the Affordable Care Act impacts personal bankruptcy

A great deal of media attention has been focused on the Affordable Care Act and how it has impacted the average American. One aspect of the ACA that has not been given a great deal of attention is how Obamacare has impacted personal bankruptcy. Medical bills are among the leading causes of consumer financial strain, and many people who are burdened by high medical debt will eventually turn to personal bankruptcy. According to economists, however, the Affordable Care Act has reduced health care expenses for individuals in Connecticut and across the nation.

A new Consumer Reports study shows that the rates of personal bankruptcy fell considerably between 2010 and 2016. Multiple factors contributed to the decline, including changes to bankruptcy law and overall economic improvement. However, experts agree that, because more Americans have access to health coverage, fewer families turned to bankruptcy protection to address high levels of medical debt.

It can be difficult to determine what percentage of bankruptcy filings can be considered to be medical-related. For many individuals and families, financial strain is the result of a complex mix of factors. That said, when a family member experiences a significant injury or illness and is uninsured, medical debt can quickly become crippling. The only clear path toward relief is through personal bankruptcy.

As the current administration struggles to find a new health care solution for the American public, this debate is far from over. Medical debt continues to be an issue for families, including many in Connecticut. While recent statistics show a decrease in personal bankruptcy filings as well as reported problems covering medical expenses, this issue continues to be a top concern for lawmakers at both the state and national level.

Source: latimes.com, "Another little-mentioned benefit of Obamacare: It has reduced medical bankruptcies", Michael Hiltzik, May 9, 2017

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