Comments about ‘1 in 4 Americans struggle to pay doctor bills’

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Published: Wednesday, Feb. 12 2014 4:00 a.m. MST

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RedShirt
USS Enterprise, UT

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?

There You Go Again
Saint George, UT

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.

happy2bhere
clearfield, UT

"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.

DaveWY
Afton, WY

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

Pac_Man
Pittsburgh, PA

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.

FT
salt lake city, UT

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.

johnklds
UK, 00

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?

RedShirt
USS Enterprise, UT

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?

UT Brit
London, England

@RedShirt

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.

Redshirt1701
Deep Space 9, Ut

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

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.

Underwriter
Houston, TX

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.

maxx1
tooele, UT

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!

toosmartforyou
Farmington, UT

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.

Redshirt1701
Deep Space 9, Ut

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

@ 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.

Liberty For All
Cedar, UT

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

@ 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.

Redshirt1701
Deep Space 9, Ut

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?

My2Cents
Taylorsville, UT

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.

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