Tuesday, February 13, 2018

What doesn't kill us will make us bankrupt

    Two recent articles about two very different diseases, rabies and the flu, underscore one uncomfortable truth about our healthcare system: it’s killing us.

    Vox detailed how lifesaving rabies shots in America are often priced ten times higher than the same medication in other countries -- usually over $10,000. And while insurance companies often negotiate the price down, the reality of facilities fees, co-payments and follow-up visits leave patients burdened with bills well after they leave the emergency room.

    Meanwhile, a Texas teacher opted against paying the $116 copay for Tamiflu -- and later died from the virus. To be clear: she had health insurance. However, the high cost of one single shot on top of her regular monthly premiums was too much to stomach. In the end, the decision to forego preventive care cost her her life.

    The fact is that the high cost of care is forcing us to make difficult decisions with serious repercussions.

Do we get the treatment we need and risk bankruptcy for it?
Can we afford not to?

    The Kaiser Family Foundation has a sobering report detailing how even those with insurance continue to struggle to pay their medical bills. Women, those living in the South, and those with greater medical need appear to suffer disproportionately --  but the reality is that the burden is borne by Americans of every class, race and gender.

    And, isn’t just the flu or a bat bite that’s crippling people’s finances: MRSA, miscarriages, dental care and even a pair of glasses are all expenses that add up. These are the kind of bills that many people fail to ever fully recover from.

    As we continue to debate the merits of healthcare reform, we need to be aware of the reality of not improving our current system -- or of making it worse. People will continue to be forced to choose between the care they need and the care they can afford.Medical debt will continue to be a leading driver of bankruptcies: a hole few Americans have the means to ever pull themselves out of.

    It’s time our healthcare equip us with the tools to make ourselves better off -- not worse.

Mental Health's Moment