By now, it’s no longer a secret that medical bills are the single leading cause of bankruptcy in the United States, and celebrities are not immune. In one more for the celebrity medical bankruptcy files, The Los Angeles Times reported this week that Zsa Zsa Gabor is being forced to sell her home in order to pay her medical bills and debt:
Gabor, 93, has no health insurance besides Medicare, bringing her monthly medical bills to $21,000, he said.
“She partied with the rich and famous, flirted and sometimes got married,” von Anhalt said. “She did not think of the future.”
Von Anhalt described his wife’s condition as “not very good.” Although her leg is healing, Gabor is suffering from mucus in her lungs, liver problems and sporadic fevers, and she cannot talk or recognize her surroundings, he said. The “Moulin Rouge” star will likely never recover enough to get into a wheelchair.
“She has to stay in bed the rest of her life,” he said.
Although most of us don’t have the resources to sell a $28 million dollar home to pay our medical bills, it’s still an all-too-familiar, sad story that affects many Americans. A national study by Harvard and Ohio University, published in The American Journal of Medicine, showed that the leading cause of bankruptcy in the United States is due to unpaid medical bills. Over 60% of all 2007 bankruptcy filings were connected to unaffordable medical and hospital expenses. Frighteningly, this is not just the uninsured. Over 75% of those filing for bankruptcy had health insurance coverage. The average unpaid debt of those filing for medical bankruptcy with health insurance was $17,749, whereas it was $26,971 for those without coverage. In many cases, high deductibles or pre-existing conditions force people to take on debt to cover the costs of treatment which their insurance will not.
Seniors like Zsa Zsa Gabor, who do not realize that Medicare will not cover all their healthcare costs can be extremely vulnerable. As their healthcare needs rapidly grow, many can find themselves in a position to have to empty their bank accounts and sell their homes, especially if they need long-term care.
Are you a smart senior who has planned ahead for your healthcare needs? Tell us about it!
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