They concluded that 62.1 percent of the bankruptcies were medically related because the individuals either had more than $5,000 (or 10 percent of their pretax income) in medical bills, mortgaged their home to pay for medical bills, or lost significant income due to an illness.
I don't expect you to trust me. I expect you to verify. The issue is that this was reported as medical bills cause 62% of bankruptcies. In any given year, I have more than $5000 in medical bills and to this point this has not bankrupted me. So $5000 in medical bills is not a really good indicator of the cause of the bankruptcy, but don't let that stop you from attacking me personally. This issue is not the study. The issue is the study and how it was used. Yes the study information was correct, but it was set up so it could be reported as medical bills cause 62% of bankruptcies which was not what it showed.
Americans trust science too much. If you can cite a study to prove your point you have won the argument. This has been noticed by the political class and they have designed studies to allow them to win the political argument or get the headline they want. For instance, the famous Harvard study that came up with the conclusion that medical bills cause greater than 60% of bankruptcies used as a criteria that if there were over $5000 in medical bills that caused the bankruptcy. Just about every year I have that much in medical bills. I guess the real amazing thing is ~40% of people who declare bankruptcy have less $5000 in medical bills in the year in which they declare bankruptcy.
Unless the news and the public can distinguish between studies that were designed to give a result, science will continue to be misused. It is very easy to design a study that will give a specific result. If you wanted to create a study that said only 1% of bankruptcies are caused by medical bills you could used that 99% of the debt in the bankruptcy had to be medical bills. The issue is that caused by does not mean what you would expect.