The air is thick these days with cross currents of accusations that one side or the other is telling lies about the pending HR 3200 health care reform bill. Again you are all urged to read at least some portion of it for yourself. You can google it. The phrase “death panels” is tossed about by both sides. Frankly, I think it is a fair paraphase and debating point for those who oppose the health bill. When you read it the intent of the section is quiet clear. You don’t need to be an Oxford don to discern that the message is to encourage people to forgo treatment and accept death. That is the whole point. It darn sure isn’t there to promote attempts to be really aggressive in prolonging your life. Those sessions and the message they send were important enough to the drafters of the bill that they put it in there. They could have assumed that most doctors, patients and their families would discuss those issues when they all felt the time was right. The bill prods them to discuss impending death. So it is a bit dramatic but a fair analogy. They sure aren’t “life panels”. The left starting using the argument that some where between 50% and 62% of all bankruptcies are caused by medical costs. I have heard and seen numbers between those two bandied about and one just last night by an MSNBC commentator.
Over the years I have learned that there is so much to learn. The amount of information and knowledge that I have not attained is stunning. That is one of my biggest regrets with aging, I will not be able to learn all that I would have wanted. There is lots about a lot that I don’t know. But there are a few things that I do know about in great detail. The first time I heard such a number my ears pricked up because I immediately realized how absurd that figure was. I have been doing bankruptcy work for over 40 years. I specialize in Chapter 11 and workouts. I and my partner were active in helping draft and discuss the creation of the Bankruptcy Code during the ’70’s. He even went to testify on several occasions. My name was on the first check to found the American Bankrutpcy Institute which these days is constantly being quoted by AP and others regarding bankruptcy matters. I have handled hundreds if not a few thousand bankruptcy matters during my career.
First, I would like to know how they gathered this alleged information that medical costs were the cause of individual bankruptcies. The data gathering I submit was skewed and the seeker found just what they were looking for in the first place. When a bankruptcy is filed the debtor has to file lots of paper work. They must list their assets, liabilities and a great deal of other information. They have to disclose their bank accounts, payments made in the last year, trusts in their name, and special payments they made. They are very detailed. But they do NOT ask why they filed bankruptcy. A creditor at the first meeting can ask the question but that is only asked in business cases normally, not individual cases. Secondly it is not asked in personal cases because it doesn’t matter anymore. They are were they are. The debtor must list in detail their creditors by name, address, amount owed and what for and if they challenge the debt among other things. If all they did was track schedules filed in bankruptcy cases to see if there were any debt listed to a doctor or hospital then that would not be an accurate reflection of the cause of bankruptcy. That would be merely one debt among others.
If the data was gathered by making some kind of survey in writing or by phone then the data would be even more misleading. People lie about money, duh. People rarely like to own up to their own mistakes especially when they don’t have to and there is another convenient excuse. I bet you have noticed this human characteristic yourself. If a debtor filed for bankruptcy and owed anything to a doctor or hospital I can well imagine that they would say that was why I had to file. He will conveniently omit the fact that he gambled away and lost $17,000.0o the prior year in Vegas. He will not blame an extravagant life style for his financial demise. That fancy flat screen TV and gear that cost $4000.00 and all those nice expensive trips he took with his girlfriend or wife will not be mentioned as the cause of his bankruptcy. The fact he charged it all on his credit card and was living well beyond his means will not be singled out as the reason he filed. I handled hundreds of straight Ch. 7 bankruptcies over the years. In only a handful of cases was outstanding medical bills due the cause of a bankruptcy. The fact is almost anywhere across the country those debts will not put people into bankrupty unless they have a really bad lawyer. Doctors and hosptitals don’t file suit for those debts even if they are due. That is a fact. Check your local abstract of judgment records. Even if you owe money to a hospital and get sick again, they will still treat you when you show up. It would be a rare case where someone filed bankruptcy due to medical bills.
So often we have to accept some contention without serious challenge because we don’t really know enough about the subject to rebut or challenge it. I know something about this. That is a complete fabrication and I would be glad to be proved wrong if someone can do it. Lord only knows what think tank they used to come up with those numbers. I guarantee you they did not get that % from a bankruptcy practioner with experience. It would be very rare for me to advise in good faith that someone take bankruptcy because of medical debts alone. There w0uld need to be other reasons.
Our dollar and T bills are holding up better than I expected in the markets. Unfortunately though it is like being the tallest midget in the room. It is only because of the weakness of our economic competitors that they remain relatively strong. As new taxes, regulations, and inflation take their toll those numbers will change. www.olcranky.wordpress.com