Lead Plaintiff in Anti-Obamacare Lawsuit Now Bankrupt with Unpaid Medical Bills

Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Mary Brown (photo: Wall Street Journal)
The lead plaintiff in the lawsuit trying to overturn President Barack Obama’s mandate that every American have health insurance went bankrupt while owing $4,500 in unpaid medical bills.
 
Mary Brown, the former owner of a small auto repair shop in Panama City, Florida, decided to challenge the healthcare reform law because she didn’t want the government telling her what to do. She and her husband used to have health insurance, but stopped making payments because they were too expensive.
 
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear Brown’s legal challenge and decide whether the government can require people to buy health insurance.
 
“This is so ironic,” Jane Perkins, a health law expert in North Carolina, told the Los Angeles Times. “It just shows that all Americans inevitably have a need for healthcare. Somebody has paid for her healthcare costs. And she is now among the 62% whose personal bankruptcy was attributable in part to medical bills.”
 
Brown’s attorneys dispute the significance of her bankruptcy, saying her unpaid medical bills were only a small part of her debts and did not cause her bankruptcy. She and her husband owe another $58,000 to credit card companies and others.
 
Christa Hild, a spokeswoman for Bay Medical Center in Panama City, the Browns’ biggest medical creditor, told the Times, “This is a very common problem.…If it's a bad debt, we have to absorb it.” In the end, it’s the public that pays for the medical expenses for people like Mary Brown and her husband, either through increased insurance premiums or by paying taxes to support Medicare and Medicaid.
 
As for Brown, now that she is living on unemployment benefits, she probably would be eligible for an exemption from paying for mandated health insurance anyway.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
 
To Learn More:

Hurdle for Health-Law Suit (by Emily Maltby, Vanessa O’Connell and Jess Bravin, Wall Street Journal) 

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