by Brian Wolfman
Several years ago, David Himmelstein, Elizabeth Warren, Deborah Thorne, and Steffie Woolhandler wrote a piece indicating that a large percentage of U.S. bankruptcy filings are prompted by medical debt. They argued for universal health care coverage, and they pointed to the low rate of medical bankruptcy in Canada, which has universal, single-payer health coverage. The Fraser Institute has recently issued a study claiming that comparisons with Canada do not make the case for single-payer national health insurance because bankruptcy rates are, the study claims, higher in Canada than in the U.S. The study is getting some play in the press. Putting aside the question whether a comparison between overall bankruptcy rates in the U.S. and Canada is relevant, Bob Lawless over at Credit Slips has just responded to the Fraser Institute's study, seriously questioning its statistical validity. Here's a couple sentences to give you a flavor: "Before anyone takes this study seriously, a few important facts are needed to place the Fraser Institute findings in context. To be as charitable as possible, the study's use of the bankruptcy data is extremely selective." Worth reading.