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February 12, 2007

Bankruptcy - One Family's Story

BANKRUPTCY - ONE FAMILY'S STORY

Many economic forecasters say that more and more people are on the verge of bankruptcy. We spend more on our homes than ever before. The rate of savings is down. The cost of health care is up.

It's true that the number of people filing for bankruptcy is actually down. From Washington to Wisconsin, the filing rate in the past year is 50-70% lower than the previous year. But about a year ago, the federal government enacted the Bankruptcy Abuse Protection and Consumer Protection Act. The law is supposed to make it harder for people to file if they really don't need to.  And it does.

Filing for bankruptcy was already hard enough. For many people, it means an admission of failure: a business failure or an inability to manage one's own money. 

Four years ago, Dawn and William were newly married, had bought their first house, had good jobs, and were thrilled to have a baby on the way.  Then Dawn fell down the stairs in their home.  

The accident began a spiral of mounting medical problems which ultimately forced Dawn to stop working. Even with William's health insurance, the bills kept piling up. The couple was managing to scrape by until William's employer eliminated overtime.  

Now Dawn and William are embarrassed to be facing bankruptcy. So embarrassed that they asked that we not share their last name.  

But there is one unexpected result from the stress they've been through: it has brought them closer together.

 

INSURING THE BRICKHOUSE

Greg Morelli is the co-owner of a successful restaurant in Chicago. He recently heard a program on The Story about health insuranceand felt inspired to write.

My brother and I own a restaurant, Joey's Brickhouse. We're Italian Jews, which means besides bickering we're into food. We're heading into our third year. As the restaurant gets more stable, one of our 2007 goals is to provide our managers with health insurance…each of our managers has different health care concerns, but overall, they just want to know they're going to be ok.

Dick Gordon listens in as Greg Morelli and two of his managers, Lori Coleman and Johnny Ferguson, joke about the risks, wrestle with the costs, and try to figure out how they can make health insurance work at the Brickhouse.

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