1 in 4 Americans struggle to pay doctor bills


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  • My2Cents Taylorsville, UT
    Feb. 17, 2014 4:03 a.m.

    When Obama care does kick in it will be 3 out of 4 can't pay for health care insurance or the medical care. Funeral wagons will become common visitors to neighborhoods because people will be dieing at home instated of in the hospitals. And if you can afford the health care you can't find a doctor who will take Obama care insurgence.

    No, Obama will not give everyone health care and no one will paying for it either since jobs will not be collecting and paying the health care insurance to government and workers will have to work 3 jobs to buy it on their own. Those who don't work will not get health care and this plan is not meant to pay doctors and hospitals, thats why their is a $6,000-$12,000 yearly deductible the insured has to pay first. You might have insurance but it won't pay for any medical care or prescriptions.

    Health care in the US is dead industry and doomed to die when Obamacare law is passed again in 2016, after Obama deserts this country.

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    Feb. 14, 2014 9:48 a.m.

    To "toosmartforyou" actually, the government and their mandates on hospitals contributes a lot to why asprin costs $15 instead of $5, combined with lawyers that use hospitals like a gold mine.

    See "$18 For A Baby Aspirin" at NPR or "4 SoCal Hospitals Close Their ER Doors" at CBS LA. You can thank government mandates that require hospitals to treat anybody, regardless of ability to pay.

    Next, if you want to further understand the cost, look at malpractice insurance. If 1 OB/GYN costs over $300,000/yr to cover, how much do you think a hospital full of people costs to insure for malpractice or even cover for liability?

  • toosmartforyou Farmington, UT
    Feb. 14, 2014 7:59 a.m.

    @ Liberty For All,

    Nothing is FREE. It may be free to you, but someone is paying the bill. Local property taxes subsidize the costs, according to you, so ask those property owners if your healthcare is free and see what they say.

    Is this model really for those who can't pay or perhaps used by some who feel "entitled" and won't pay? "Free" can be a curse as well as a blessing.

  • Liberty For All Cedar, UT
    Feb. 14, 2014 12:17 a.m.

    We have a working model that provides FREE health care for those who cannot pay. My family utilizes the ER for all doctors visits, diabetes, and if our children get the flu. Never has their been a bill that we need to pay. Local property taxes subsidize the hospital and health insurance premiums are higher for the rich or 1% of this country who can afford it.

    The model works, why fix what ain't broke? I don't like the longer wait times, but its FREE so no complaints.

  • toosmartforyou Farmington, UT
    Feb. 13, 2014 6:41 p.m.

    @ Redshirt1701

    Was it the government who decided that an aspirin at a drug store, over the counter, was $5 for a bottle of a hundred and that at a hospital a single aspirin was $15? Aspirin has been around for decades and so there is no name brand that the medical profession won't approve as a generic because there isn't money in it so they just jack up the price of a single tablet to begin with.

    Why is healthcare so expensive in the emergency room as compared with a doctor's office for the exact same care? The hospital's ought to be cheaper because they buy supplies in bulk.

    Why do healthcare providers not allow you the same price if you pay cash than if you pay through an insurance carrier when they would have tons less paperwork and get their money immediately? If you have a procedure that the hospital bills at $10,000, with you having insurance they might accept $3,500 total from you and the insurance company but if you don't have insurance they want the entire $10,000...what's with that?

    Just how is government responsible for each of these scenarios? Please elaborate.

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    Feb. 13, 2014 1:58 p.m.

    To "maxx1" if we followed your advice, we would never have new hospitals, new techniques developed, or new medications. How could a Doctor afford to buy new software for his office if he didn't use the profits he earned to improve his office? If the drug company didn't use their profits to develop new drugs or new manufacturing methods, how would that ever happen?

    I don't think you know what profits are used for in healthcare, or other businesses.

    A universal care system would be terrible. You see, thanks to profit, health care providers look to make things cheaper and more efficient. Government beauracracies feed on inefficiency. Government managers can only prove their worth by the number of people they manage. So, to look more important they need the system to be inefficient, which they then use to get more supervisees. So, a job that could be handled by 2 or 3 competent people is now being worked by 8 inefficient people. The system gets more and more bogged down, which means that for a Universal Care system, you lose more healthcare dollars to pay for growing inefficiency.

    To "toosmartforyou" you cna thank the government for the price increase.

  • toosmartforyou Farmington, UT
    Feb. 13, 2014 1:42 p.m.

    Why have we Americans just sat back and allowed the Health Care Providers, Insurance Companies, Hospitals, Drug Makers, etc all just raise the prices through the roof? It's akin to the way we just let the oil companies rape and rob us blind for the basic commodity of gasoline. When are we going to say "Enough is enough and NO MORE?!!!" We trusted the US Congress and that was our first mistake, I suppose.

  • maxx1 tooele, UT
    Feb. 13, 2014 12:28 p.m.

    Health care in this country is a tradey. It should NEVER be for profit and NEVER traded on the stock market. All profits should go back into the system to pay the Drs. and run the hospitals. All profits need to go back into the system to keep the costs down. Until we truly have a national health care system, we will continue to go broke. This country needs to do away with medicare, medicaid, and have universal health care for all. One system and one healthcare provider for each state. PERIOD!

  • Underwriter Houston, TX
    Feb. 13, 2014 11:52 a.m.

    High cost of medical care has been a long time developing but is the product of what our system has done. We cover things with "insurance" that should not be part of insurance and we have been socialist in this system with patient and doctor not being responsible to each other for the cost of services for more than 60 years. When you spend someone else's money for a service, you tend to lose track of the cost both as a provider (doctor) and patient, (bills paid by insurance with those premiums paid by employers). This has caused run away inflation in healthcare costs for more than 60 years. Obamacare will only make this worse and create a bigger two tier system with those who have money getting care and those without, getting emergency care provided by government doctors. Welcome to Medicare for all and USPS/DMV quality healthcare by government paid doctors.

  • UT Brit London, England
    Feb. 13, 2014 11:19 a.m.

    Right so the letter from the insurance company isn't a bill, they just send you details on what you have to pay. Biggggggg difference there redshirt! Oh those hospitals are so generous I am sure they are willing to wipe out everyone's debt. When you have so many uninsured who pays all those bills?

    How much would I be willing to pay? That all depends on if my wife and children are going to be left bankrupt and homeless at the end. Thankfully I live in a place where worries like that never cross my mind.

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    Feb. 13, 2014 10:11 a.m.

    To "UT Brit" and you claim that you have lived in the US and actually used health insurance here.

    The insurance companies do not send bills. They will send you a statement outlining what they paid, and include an estimate for what you may be required to pay. For those that don't have the money most hospitals have funds or the ability to write off the bills for those that actually need help.

    As for the statistics, still, 2% better survival rate. How much would you pay to know that you have a better chance to live?

  • UT Brit London, England
    Feb. 13, 2014 9:22 a.m.


    For acute lymphoblastic leukemia its 90% in the US compared to 88% in the UK. 78% is for ALL types of cancer in the UK. Just wanted to correct you there, I am sure you are not the type of person to willingly distort statistics.

    As someone who has had a seriously ill child, not having to worry about medical bills was a huge relief and help. It allowed me to concentrate purely on my child without any additional stress. My child was was treated successfully and I didnt have to worry about my insurance company sending a letter requesting thousands of dollars.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Feb. 13, 2014 8:29 a.m.

    To "FT" here is one thing to remember. Even though healthcare is a for profit industry, they still are able to make a profit and provide a service cheaper than the government can.

    Private insurance companies typically take 15% of the premiums for overhead and profit. Now compare that to the 25% to 30% that the Federal government takes for their overhead costs.

    It only gets worse once you look at money lost to waste and fraud. The government burns through money 2 to 4 times as fast as private insurance.

    To "johnklds" you should be glad that your grandchild is in the US. The US has a 90% survival rate, compared to 78% in the UK. Can you tell me how much money you would pay to give your grandchild the best chance of survival?

  • johnklds UK, 00
    Feb. 13, 2014 2:24 a.m.

    I live in the UK and have a daughter in Utah her son has leukemia which is obviously bad enough, but to then have massive healthcare excess to pay is crippling them financially. I don't understand British politics let alone American politics but there has to be a more equitable way, maybe means tested, looking at what and how people in need spend what they have, which I am sure will upset some of the civil liberties people but if the deserving get the help it must be worth it?

  • FT salt lake city, UT
    Feb. 12, 2014 8:38 p.m.

    All the posters here prove that our health care system is complicated. It also is almost 20% of our GDP and is a FOR PROFIT industry. Because of those reasons change is not going to be easy and is going to be very politcal.

  • Pac_Man Pittsburgh, PA
    Feb. 12, 2014 8:29 p.m.

    md: Even if they all did and got rid of these luxuries, they still could not afford insurance. Most people who don't have insurance have a $18K UTV.

  • DaveWY Afton, WY
    Feb. 12, 2014 4:58 p.m.

    It costs me more than twenty five percent of my take home pay to just pay for my insurance. That is before I pay copays, deductibles, or out of network costs. My friends in the medical field say they have to jack up prices charged the insured to cover the uninsured whom the law requires they treat even if they cant pay. So I am being "taxed" by higher premiums to pay the costs of those who cant pay. OUCH

  • happy2bhere clearfield, UT
    Feb. 12, 2014 4:30 p.m.

    "Getting stiches or a cast can cost two months rent..." I remember going to an ER in California a few years ago when having some bad symptoms and after a two hour wait, and then only having my blood pressure tested, I get a bill for 800 dollars. Health care is too expensive because there is too much regulation and government involvement. Remember the 800 dollar hammer stories coming from the defense department? Prices like that can be asked for and gotten away with because government is too big to manage costs. Open up the medical care system to nationwide competetion and insurance programs, and watch the costs drop. And watch the quality of care improve due to the need to attract customers. If a doctor wants to be a socialist MD, let them practice in the military, where they get the same pay as any other 04 or 05 ect. Otherwise, let them be part of the free market economy just like most other service providing professionals.

  • There You Go Again Saint George, UT
    Feb. 12, 2014 2:33 p.m.

    Using the ACA as the reason you have to cut payroll/benefits is exactly what business people do to put more money in their pockets.

    I have no problem with business owners doing everything possible to maximize profit for themselves or their shareholders...that is simply the way capitalism works.

    What I do have a problem with is business owners using the ACA as an excuse to cut payroll/benefits.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Feb. 12, 2014 12:38 p.m.

    To "Meckofahess" you are right, the healthcare system is a mess. The problem is that you are not diagnosing the source of the problem. You wouldn't give a person with a brain tumor an asprin for the pain, but that is exactly what Obamacare has done.

    Ok, lets look at the problem in depth. Yes 1 in 4 cannot afford to pay their doctor bills, so what has the government done about that? Well, for the poorest, it has given them insurance policies that have deductibles that must be paid before the insurance kicks in. So, now with the poorest, we pay for insurance they can't use and we pay again when their problems are critical enough to require ER care.

    The problem isn't the insurers, but the government and their micromanaging of insurance companies.

    If the government was so concerned about actually getting care to the poor, why didn't they set up clinics instead of going after insurance companies?

  • David Centerville, UT
    Feb. 12, 2014 12:23 p.m.

    If I was a graduating physician today I would probably come out of school with $400K student loans. I would work for a large network of physicians associated with hospital care because the single-owned practices are all bought up and gone (or very few remain). I might be paid $80,000 starting salary (maybe I'm low on this estimate).

    How would I pay living expenses and student loans?

    Physicians are generally not overpaid.

    I believe specialists may be overpaid.

    So what drives the high cost of medical care? I believe it is liability insurance costs and the high cost of education. If doctors didn't face a lawsuit for everything they do, they wouldn't have to order all of the tests and expensive procedures to cover their risks.

    Hospitals face the same problem of liability risks, but CEOs command too high a price too.

  • Gildas LOGAN, UT
    Feb. 12, 2014 11:47 a.m.

    Neither political party has done anything to help the people of the USA have affordable health care. The system we now have is neither fish nor fowl; it is neither a public nor a private system. The new system sounds even worse for most people, if that is possible.

    States, doctors and medical facilities are beginning to refuse to co-operate with the new system. People resent being dictated to. Where will it all end we wonder?

    I know a man who was a candidate for a heart bypass, double or triple. He decided to change his diet to a healthy one and within three months, if I remember right, he told me arteries that were ninety percent occluded dropped to about twenty percent occluded. He looks and feels so much better. We need to be healthy, not to be "fixed" by bankruptcy prices and dangerous ops for our dumb lifestyle decisions. A small percentage only have health problems that could not have been precluded by common sense life choices, temperance and practical intelligence. Finally of course all of us, including doctors, will die. No master plan can prevent that.

  • UT Brit London, England
    Feb. 12, 2014 10:50 a.m.

    @The Final Word

    You think every Canadian gets 45-55% tax? I assume you have not lived there.

    Lower lifespans then Americans, got any facts to back that up? Looking at the stats they live 4 years longer on average.

  • The Final Word Alpine, UT
    Feb. 12, 2014 10:15 a.m.

    "Recently a family member needed a prescription that cost $1200.00 a month. I found the same thing at a Candadian pharmacy for about $300.00 a month."

    Uh, you do realize the Canadian government, with their 45-55% taxation of their citizens, partially subsidizes and has a review board that controls drug costs right?

    You do also realize that there are Canadian-based studies that say this exact policy has likely limited access to certain drugs and as a result reduced life spans?

    Sometimes/not always are they cheaper either.

    You also know that if in fact all countries held prices down that innovation would be stifled because some of these drugs are discovered only because of years and years of research and testing all paid for by, you guessed it, high drug costs.

    Believe me we all know drugs are expensive but there is also two sides to the story and it is not as simple as you make it out to be.

    We can get most anything here in the USA and we can get fast and that can be expensive but conversely in Canada that is not always true.

    Pros and cons.

  • Laura Ann Layton, UT
    Feb. 12, 2014 10:07 a.m.

    I agree with a lot of what people have said here and the article, but I want to point out one thing. I take a drug for Multiple Sclerosis which costs $64,000 a year. This last year, my husband's company made it's employees start paying a high deductible. Needless to say, I was concerned, but I also have a lot of knowledge about how insurance works. I got hold of the company that makes my medication and enrolled in their help program. They paid my total deductible and also almost all of my out of pocket maximum. Many drug companies offer such programs, you just need to look. I really helps with the medication costs. As to other medical care, such as surgery, etc,... We started putting all the money we could into our Health Savings Account so we can have some security in the future. As unfair as insurance is these days, there are things one can do to help with the outrageous costs of insurance.

  • Kent C. DeForrest Provo, UT
    Feb. 12, 2014 9:58 a.m.

    Mman did miss the point of the CBO report. The ACA may result in up to 2 million fewer full-time workers, but that is primarily because many people who wanted to quit their jobs or reduce their hours but couldn't afford to because they would lose their health insurance can now find affordable insurance without being employed full time. It is the Republicans who stuck their foot in their mouth again trying to spin this into something horrendous.

    The obvious answer to this mess for conservatives, of course, is to repeal Obamacare. That is their solution. Yes, Orrin Hatch came out with a very belated alternative plan, if plan you can call it. What we really need is to follow the example of all other industrialized countries and move to a single-payer system. Then we too might cut our health costs in half. But do you think the GOP could swallow that poison pill? Fat chance.

  • Anti Government Alpine, UT
    Feb. 12, 2014 9:54 a.m.

    Everyone complains about the "cost" of healthcare.

    Obamacare has done NOTHING to curb the actual cost of healthcare. If you believe it did, why did the healthcare companies conspire with obama on his healthcare plan? It was so they could make even more money.

    Of course you gullible people bought the story the president sold and ignored the facts/details.

    From personal experience I know that my company, in order to cover all the mandated coverages of obamacare, decreased our benefits/coverage and raised our premiums.

    I have a $4000 out of pocket deductible before I get ANY actual insurance coverage. So, I got premium increases and dramatically less coverage and literally thousands out of pocket.

    I also have dramatically less healthcare benefits even after I meet the deductible. Example? Zero coverage for ANY brand name drug. Zero. Doesn't matter if the generic works or not. Zero coverage. Some are $700/month for 1 prescription my son needs.

    I would tell you to do the math but it seems most people can't. Premiums and costs are increasing faster than ever...unless you are very poor...in which case myself and others are now paying your skyrocketing costs as well.

  • Meckofahess Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 12, 2014 9:32 a.m.

    If the cost of healhcare wasn't so high, the cost of insurance plan premiums and deductibles would not be so high. Insurance has allowed the healthcare empire to charge these unjustifiable fees. Perhaps we should abolish health insurance totally and have everyone just shop for the best prices. If everyone had to pay out of pocket for their care, I'm pretty sure the providers would have to lower their charges fast. Health insurance is just one piece of a big problem that allows business entities to gouch the sick. For some reason in America we've decided that if you are a healthcare provider you are entitled to charge whatever the market will bear regardless of the consequences to the economic well being of the country and the suffering of the people. The current "fee-for-service" system just rewards providers for volume - not quality. Not sure how we can correct greedy capitalism when it comes to caring for the sick - we are a captive market! I guess people will just have to suffer and die because they can't afford to see a doctors or pay for the prescriptions!

  • schokuspokus Orem, Utah
    Feb. 12, 2014 9:30 a.m.

    I am a European, so go easy on me.
    I watch from afar in amasement how hard you people fight to be "independent on the surface" even if it kills you.
    For me it looks not like the land of he free anymore but the land of the slaves. Very few rich people milk you dry and leave you with nothing. And you applaud them doing it.
    This is not to offend anyone. It just leaves me stunned that every chance you get to make things better for you you fight like crazy.
    Times change so the approach to deal with the new situation needs to be change. But people are unable to change their way of thinking to make every bodies life better.
    My humble suggestion: Start thinking out of the box and take your life back into your own hands and don't leave it in the hands of the rich people that don't care about you. Fight!
    Let your leaders make laws to stop the few to enslave you any further.
    I wish you all the best. Lived 10 years in the US. Loved it back then.

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    Feb. 12, 2014 8:58 a.m.

    Pragmatist. I didn't miss the point at all. There is no such thing as something for nothing, especially in healthcare. If people want Cadillac quality healthcare, it is impossible to provide that at Wal-Mart prices. Wal-Mart priced healthcare, which is what Obamacare promised, must include all the other factors of Obamacare; job loses, higher co-pays, deductibles and higher premiums for those who have health insurance. The only conclusion possible is; high quality healthcare at low prices is impossible, unless of course you are getting a subsidy paid for by others! The only question is, who pays?

  • Doug10 Roosevelt, UT
    Feb. 12, 2014 8:23 a.m.

    1 in 4 struggle to pay the doctor is not really accurate but more true would be 1 in 4 struggle to pay the health care companies who prey off doctors and patients

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    Feb. 12, 2014 7:56 a.m.

    MM, you missed the point of the article entirely with your rush to "I hate Obamacare".

    The article is not about subsidies, or insurance per se. It's about the high cost of medical services themselves and how that effects everyone.

    If you stop for a moment and take a deep breath you see how those with coverage from the largest employers are experiencing the same problem of having to put off medical care because of the high deductible plans that most large employers have gone to.

    The ACA doesn't do a whole lot for this problem of cost. It's a first step though and it will be articles like this and experiences like those documented in this article that will eventually lead changes.

    When the person with the best insurance available figures out that they are having the same experience as the person with minimally mandated insurance, having to put off or at least ration health care because of cost, then maybe we'll get somewhere.

    The conversation couldn't happen though until everyone has health insurance. Viva Le ACA.

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    Feb. 12, 2014 7:51 a.m.

    @ Maverick. You need to read the recent Congressional Budget Office report about Obamacare's effects on jobs. Then read the ridiculous spin the Demos are putting on this report! From them I have learned, "not having a job is actually a good thing". That will be a very tough sale during the November midterm elections! Your precious and wonderful Obamacare is falling apart and any honest taxpayer(that means people who pay the bills) knows it!

  • SummitHigh Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 12, 2014 7:45 a.m.

    A big hit? This article actually describes what Obamacare is changing health care INTO, not what it is attempting to improve. What we have seen so far from the ACA is that it transforms formerly "regular" plans into high deductible plans, with a vastly diminished network: higher premium, higher deductible, less access to care.

  • Back Talk Federal Way, WA
    Feb. 12, 2014 7:40 a.m.

    Actually, Obamacare has had an effect on large company health plans. Because of the tax on higher cost plans that will take effect after Obama is out of office, many plans have already been cut back and costs pushed off to employees. As the article points out, the only way to afford healthcare now is to go to a large deductible plan.

    When people discuss the good Obamacare has done by giving someone healthcare they should also mention that otehr people are now paying more and getting less on their own healthcare plans.

  • Meckofahess Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 12, 2014 7:37 a.m.

    As a healthcare professional for 35 years, I am embarrassed to be part of the broken American healthcare system. From what I can see there is too much emphasis on high profits and huge professional and executive salaries. Health system executives talk about lowering the cost of healthcare but I have never heard them say we need to lower the huge incomes of hospital administrators, physicians, or pharmaceutical executives. Recently a family member needed a prescription that cost $1200.00 a month. I found the same thing at a Candadian pharmacy for about $300.00 a month. Obamacare albeit imperfects was a step in the right direction. At least it prevents the incidious practice of denying health insurance to folks with pre-existing conditions. The greedy insurance companies didn't want to compromise their profits for those folks. The whole system is shameful and it is bringing America down. There needs to be caps on the profits that can be made on the backs of the sick. Moreover, our over priced system isn't even close to being the best in the world in terms of quality. We've had the wool pulled over our eyes for sure!

  • financenco Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 12, 2014 6:35 a.m.

    If this article is meant to help promote Obamacare, it is not the answer either. Because of this law, those who were covered, no longer are. Because of this law, people are losing jobs, or full-time status. So how are they going to afford it? Thos people working 2 or 3 jobs, will still have to in order to afford Obamacare. Some people are doing it to themselves, by not prioritizing thier lives. Such as smoking, drinking, over spending, eating out too much, cable, etc. If they quit some of that, they will find money for insurance. If you want to make insurance affordable, let the open market do it. It has been said before. Let it work, as like auto insurance. Open borders, allow people to shop and compare. The insuance companies will change their tune once someone has what they need at fair price. Another is that they shouldn't be going to emergency rooms for colds, and minor details. Go to a clinic. There are now grocery stores and pharmacy stores that have mini clinics people can go to. Leave ER for ER. That will reduce cost and waiting time. There is more, but no space.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    Feb. 12, 2014 6:29 a.m.

    This is exactly why Obamacare will be such a big hit! Americans will begin to change their habits once they're able to afford health care. Everyone deserves quality health care, not just the richies.

  • md Cache, UT
    Feb. 12, 2014 6:18 a.m.

    But, I bet they have cell phones, cable TV, iPads, junk food and other luxuries.
    I just saw a patient injured in a turbocharged UTV that cost $18K. She didn't have insurance, despite our president making it illegal for her to be without insurance coverage. She told me she didn't have the money to pay for tests that she needs or money for my visit.
    Wants and needs are messed up in this country.

  • Mountanman Victor, ID
    Feb. 12, 2014 6:00 a.m.

    Obamacare does nothing to solve this problem. Obamacare only shifts the financial burdens onto other people who then are forced to pay higher health insurance premiums, higher co-pays and higher deductibles to subsidize the poor, sick and older people's insurance. Millions of Americans who previously had healthcare insurance will now NOT be able to afford healthcare insurance. This explains why Medicaid enrollees have exploded under Obamacare because it is 100% taxpayer funded, if you can find a doctor who accepts Medicaid. In other words, Obamacare created more healthcare problems than it solved, period!