Why You Can’t Afford To Get Sick Without Healthcare In America

Posted by miss m on Saturday, June 30, 2012 @ 2:24pm in Blog, Finances, General Blather, Hysterectomy, Sickness and Health Issues |

Susan Cassidy at Progressive Libertarianism is an idiot.

From my feature on CNN, there is this quote from a naysayer on the issue:

“Her hand written letter says nothing of her having the freedom to get the service and pay out of pocket, at possibly an outrageous cost, but get the life-saving service none-the-less,” writes Susan Cassidy, at Progressive Libertarianism. “Nor does it mention the fact that she could have asked for a self-pay discount and then worked out a payment schedule that she could handle. No, because of the culture we have grown up in, it is her RIGHT to receive this service and it is clearly someone else’s responsibility to pay for it.”

Which is absurd.

I cleared $4,017 last year because I only worked part year due to health and being laid off. The ER bill alone was $13,000 with the “cash discount” putting it down to only $8,008. So pretty much double my ENTIRE year’s pay.

That doesn’t include the $1,200 to the ER docs, the $1,000 to radiologist, the $900 to the gynecologist, or the $300 in labs. It also doesn’t include the money I paid out of pocket for doctor’s visits, labs and tests between May 29th – August 1st when my PCIP insurance kicked in. (I paid approximately $5,000 last year in medical bills alone. You’ll recall, I only made $4,017 at my job.)

Then there’s surgery. JUST the hospital was $40,000. Not including the surgeon, the assistant surgeon, the radiologist, the anesthesiologist, the radiologist or the labs. Oh and my primary doctor for pre-surgery clearance AND the ultrasound I had to have of my kidneys prior to surgery to ensure they could handle anesthesia. The total was close to $80,000 all-in paying cash.

How exactly is ANYONE supposed to pay that kind of money? That’s basically a mortgage. And those take 30 years to pay off.

No doctor or hospital would EVER just “float” you $80,000 in medical care and then work out a payment plan. Not to mention, even if you could somehow pay it all off in payments, would anyone really be willing to wait decades to get their money back? Hell, no. People put me in collections on $1k co-pay bills despite trying to make payments, so if they won’t accept payments on a grand, there’s no way to make payments on $40k.

I had to meet a $1,000 deductible and pay 20% co-pay of all services. Just that alone will take me years to pay off. And that’s only with the people who are allowing me to even make payments in the first place.

So to say something as absolutely asinine as “you can just make payments” shows absolutely no connection to reality and exactly WHY this is a major crisis for millions of Americans. And why 75,000 Americans claim bankruptcy to escape from medical bills each and every year.

See the Follow-Up Entry as well.

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  • Nikki-ann says:

    I’m betting that comment was made by somebody who:

    a) Can afford America’s health care.

    b) Is pretty healthy and has never needed anything other than a few headache pills.

    If you were here, you wouldn’t be paying for all of that… Our National Health Service is paid for by our taxes. No poor person goes without when it comes to health.

  • Lorraine says:

    “Nor does it mention the fact that she could have asked for a self-pay discount and then worked out a payment schedule that she could handle.”

    From here. The original source of the article. I saw that comment on the cnn thing too.

    I know all doctors and doctors offices are different…but this is what it’s like at mine: I can’t ask for a discount and then work out a payment schedule. If I ask for the discount (which is 30% off of services), I have to pay that upfront. If I need to pay it over time, I get to pay the full amount. You can’t have both. At least at my doctor. So yeah….considering the amount of services you needed M…it’s not surprising even the discount was out of reach.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if we could work out payment plans that we can handle? She makes it sound so easy. It’s ironic she’s against Obamacare (a policy which has been criticized because of its “one size fits all” approach) and yet that’s all I ever hear as solutions from people. Just get a job that offers health insurance and all will be well. Or work two jobs. Don’t they realize that’s also a “one size fits all” approach and is why it just isn’t working especially when you live with chronic pain/illness already and cannot handle a more demanding job?

    I don’t know. I think ObamaCare has a ways to go. The first draft is rarely the best one. This is just the rough draft. And while I didn’t vote for the guy, I will admit he’s made a step in the right direction. Not perfect by a long shot but a step. That’s all we need.

  • miss m says:

    Yeah, if you are the kind of person who can afford a catastrophic medical crisis in the first place, you’re not worried about cash discounts or payment plans.

    I have friends in the UK and family in Canada and everyone is disgusted by how broken the system is here.

  • miss m says:

    Very true, Lorraine! A discount is only given in my instance as well for “prompt pay” meaning I paid all up front in cash. Not, I made payments over a long period of time. Payments = full price.

    I too think that it’s not perfect. I’ve openly said I think a universal system would have been MUCH better. But I also think that it’s taken 60+ years just to get ANY form of reform on the books. So I think it’s a win of a battle, not yet the war. And since Romney is committed to utterly taking away the consumer rights gained by the plan, it’s so important he doesn’t win. We need to give this a chance to really get used for a few years so people can see the benefits and see how it works instead of killing it before it even fully goes into effect. It’s vital Obama wins re-election so we can at least try to keep some of the ground we’ve won.

  • Nancy McBride says:

    I came across your story while doing a research paper for school. I had to see how much the media influences the public. A LOT I may say! I chose Obama’s bill because on that day it was all over the news. I read the CNN version of the decision using a real life person and tears filled my eyes! I was so touched to see a real life person being effected in a positive manner. I truly believe that Obama has peoples best interests in mind, unfortunately the masses do not like change. This is FACT! People go about their lives every day and never think about others unless that person is directly effected. I too had a run in with insurance about 4 years back when I was hit by a car, life starred to the local hospital with a slim chance of survival. After beating every odd; at 34 years old I found myself with 9 missing teeth, a scar across my face and and $50,000 worth of co-pays and still needed medical care that insurance refused to cover do to “cosmetic reasons” Unfortunately I had to actually sue the insurance company to get the rest of my care. It saddens me that when it comes to peoples health there seem to be limitations in our world. I praise you for being a true leader and sharing your story to inspire people when they needed it most. I had no opinion one way or another until I read your story, I know now that the decision was the right decision for the best interest of the American people. God bless my friend and stay healthy:)

    Nancy M

  • miss m says:

    Thank you for taking the time to leave your thoughts. I’m so sorry to hear of your own medical struggles, especially having to sue the insurance company! Nobody should have to fight insurance companies while fighting medical issues too. It’s so unfair. People do hate change but we need to start somewhere and it’s so important that this stays law so we can continue moving forward to a better system for everyone.

    I hope you are doing well now. All the best!

  • Donna says:

    I *have* health insurance (as you know M) and I cant afford to even get the treatments I need. I have a shoulder that needs surgery, that has been injured for going on 3 years now, that I cant afford to fix. It probably never will be. I have kidney issues that need dealt with that I really cant afford to deal with. Mostly because I cant afford to do the tests required. And that is *with* insurance. That is being responsible.

    I pay over $400 a month in premiums but because we pay so much in health insurance premiums and my medications for my conditions that require treatment or I *will* die.. I cant afford to take care of the things I need. But I know that in a few years, things will get easier for those of us lower income people who are responsible. Credits to help those of us in these situations will start kicking in, and maybe I will be able to actually start getting the care I need.

    I fully support the ACA, for people without insurance who will soon be able to afford to get insurance and will be eligible for assistance and people like me, who have insurance and cant afford to use it, it will be a lifesaver.

  • miss m says:

    And that’s why I never understand people who think the system as-is works! There are so many people who have insurance but still can’t afford to use it! And even simple things like a 100% yearly exam, screenings and bloodwork are awesome because the copays on those kinds of things can be prohibitive. Forget needing meds or tests or treatments if something is wrong beyond that.


    My heart goes out to you, Donna, because I know how much you struggle and ration your meds and such despite having insurance. That’s just so terribly, terribly wrong. And why we need change to the way things are done in this country!

  • Donna says:

    Yep! The preventative care screenings have been, in essence a huge blessing but its not enough. People can say all they want that “Obamacare” caused the problems for people with insurance like me because our premiums are rising etc. But these problems were prevalent *before* the ACA was passed. Most of us middle/lower income folk have been hanging on by a thread hoping upon hope that something could be done soon so that we wouldn’t continue to be thrown into absolute poverty because we had the bad luck to get sick. Which is what happened to us. On paper, we aren’t in poverty at all, but after premiums, medications, doctors visits etc, we have nothing left. And people expect people like you and I who are sick as a dog to go “work on a stripper pole” for the rest of the money we need? They have no clue. I have two disabled children who need care and we cant afford to hire someone to do that. I cant “afford” to go “work a stripper pole”, it would cost everything I made on that pole to pay for the care of my kids, which would defeat the purpose of working for paying for the medical care we cant currently afford lol. My husband works his butt off as it is. We do the best we can, like you and yours do. So I just do without. It sucks, but thats the way it is.

    All we are asking for is a break. Not a handout, not at all. I am totally willing to keep paying my share and paying for health insurance. But can it please not put us in absolute poverty?

    Im glad things will change. I just hope that in November, we dont change course and ruin it all. I do worry about that. A lot.

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