Healthcare Reform May Not Improve Medical Bills

A healthcare reform study in Massachusetts reported more people covered under insurance did not improve medical debts for them.

Tuesday the American Journal of Medicine published these findings which looked at Massachusetts healthcare reform,modeled after President Barack Obamas national plan that was passed last year.

Advocators for the national healthcare reform claimed it would reduce medical bankruptcy.

"These data suggest that reducing medical bankruptcy rates in the United States will require substantially improved -- not just expanded -- insurance," authors wrote.

Researchers took a random sample of Massachusetts bankruptcy filers in July 2009 and sent surveys to 500 households. The Massachusetts healthcare reform was implemented in 2008,so they compared their data to 2007 information.

Medical bills were still 52.9 percent of all bankruptcies in the state, although the percent was slightly down. Total bankruptcies went up 51 percent between 2007 and 2009, with medical bankruptcies going up a third.

The authors stated medical costs continue to rise, causing families to accumulate medical debts. They cited that the least expensive coverage available, for a 56-year-old in 2009, had a $5,256 premium with a $2,000 deductible and covered only 80 percent of the next $15,000 in covered services.

"We need to reduce limits on deductibles and out-of-pocket costs," said Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, one of the researchers and when the study was conducted a professor at Harvard University.

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