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Medical bills. Those least able to pay, pay the most

Sue recently had a health scare. She’s fine now, however the various tests and procedures cost about $10,000. We paid about $1,000 because she is covered under GEHA, the federal government employee health plan.

For one bill, the amount owed was $4973.00. The negotiated amount GEHA pays is $1378.25. So for us, it was a done deal. We paid nothing. However, the owed amount for someone without insurance is $4973.00. Thus, those least able to pay have to pay the most. This is beyond unfair.

Sure, they may be able to negotiate and get the bill lowered. However, that depends on their skills at negotiating and if the medical facility is willing to deal. Some, like the Intermountain Healthcare chain in Utah will. You may have to show proof of income. If you are broke and genuinely trying, they can and will lower a bill 80-90%. However, other medical facilities though may not deal at all. They’ll just send out bottom dweller bill collectors to make debtor’s lives even more miserable.

A friend in Scotland told me he went to the hospital for triple bypass surgery and another major procedure. His bill was zero, and said “I think you Yanks are insane.”

One of the biggest causes of bankruptcy in the US is medical bills. Obamacare, whatever its flaws, is a big step in the right direction. Let’s fix what is wrong with it with the goal of decent, affordable healthcare for all.

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