Medical Debt and the Insured: Investigating Failures of Insurance to Protect Patients from Financial Harm


As many as two-fifths of adults under age 65 have problems paying their medical bills or are paying off accrued medical debt. These individuals sometimes exhaust their savings or borrow against their homes to pay medical bills. Moreover, many patients with debt are either actively discouraged or feel deterred from returning for care to the facility to which they owe money. This project will explore the reasons why health insurance sometimes fails to protect patients from potentially crippling medical debt. In addition to surveying hospital patient account managers and examining the administrative data they will be asked to provide, the investigators will review hospital policies and procedures for collecting the self-pay portion of insured patients' bills. The aim of this work is to determine the relative contributions of insurance and hospital policies to patient debt, identify exemplary hospital practices for handling debt, and develop institutional, state, and federal policy remedies.

Grant Details

Grantee Organization:
Brandeis University
Principal Investigator:
Jeffrey Prottas, Ph.D.
Award Amount:
Approval Date:
July 13, 2004

Forgot Password

An email has been sent to {{email}} with your reset password.

Account was not found. Please go to the login page and enter a new password.

Account was not found. Please try again with a different email address.

There was an error when attempting to send to {{email}}. Please contact an administrator.