[-empyre-] Debt Culture--types of debt

Deena Larsen deenalarsen at yahoo.com
Fri Nov 23 05:34:36 EST 2012

Anne wrote >I'm kind of curious about this idea that bankruptcy is perceived as a moral failure: I wonder, I guess, whether that's really so true anymore.
I'd be curious, too. I have not done any research into this--surely someone has. I only know about this perception from family and friend evidence, from anecdotes.  My wife was a lawyer and would come home with tales of people hiding from friends and family because of bankruptcy--of seeing themselves as failure.  My wife had to declare bankruptcy twice (both due to medical as she was a single practitioner with cancer and she had $1,000 a month health insurance policies and massive medical costs). She saw these bankruptcies as deep moral failings and continually castigated herself over them. 
So... how do Americans perceive debt?
Moreover, I'd like to address "hidden debt" and "hidden collections" for medical.  I have had quite a few surprises on my own credit rating, as doctors and hospitals increasingly do not even try to collect from insurance agencies or individuals, but immediately sell the medical debt to collectors, who then put it on a credit report.  I will never have good credit again nor will I be able to buy a house as I continue to battle these bills. You pay them, they show up again a year later--and they can continue as uncollected debt on your credit record without proof of actual incurrence or payment. 
I am not sure if we really do perceive medical problems as moral issues, but sometimes, given the way we treat medical debt, I wonder. I am sometimes reminded of Erewhon, where illness is a crime and emotional upsets (such as embezzlement or murder) are just things to recover from at home in bed.  
Deena Larsen
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