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Medical bills bankrupt many


Aired 4/19/09

People commonly relate homelessness to poverty, mental illness and potentially substance abuse. The phrase one paycheck away from homelessness is very common. But a new face of homelessness is emerging. People are now ending up bankrupt, and potentially on the street, because of health problems. Today we speak with a professor who has done a major national study that links illness and injury to bankruptcy. Then we find out how one San Diego homeless shelter is seeing more and more people arrive because of medical distress.


  • Deborah Thorne is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Ohio University in Athens. She was a co-author of a study on illness and injury as contributors to bankruptcy with colleagues from Harvard.
  • Joe Del Rio was a scientific researcher earning $80,000 a year. After a serious illness she became homeless. She lived in the San Diego Rescue Mission until a week ago.
  • Jim Jackson is the president and CEO of the San Diego Rescue Mission.

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