Back in April I wrote about how our medical bills were starting to really pile up due to my brush with leukemia, and at that point we were really worried about how much it was all going to add up to. And then as soon as we were getting closer and closer to having everything paid off, I got another surprise – a melanoma on my leg had to be removed and I had to have surgery to have a golf-ball sized hole taken out around the spot. Ka-ching went the register at the Doctor’s office! So, after two major medical issues in less than 12 months, and with health insurance, wanna know how much we have spent of our own money?
Yep, almost $10,000 of our income has gone to pay of medical bills so far, in addition to the $300+ a month we were paying on our premium. Luckily now we have a great plan through my wife’s work, but prior to September 1 we were paying for our own private insurance. And in order to make it affordable for while we were living in California, we had a very high deductible. But $10,000 is a lot of money for anyone, even for a dual-income household such as ours. So imagine what it would be like for someone without extra income? Or 3 kids to feed? Or a mortgage to pay for? $10,000 is a large chunk of most people’s income, and having to shell out that much money in one year for medical bills could be an incredible hardship. No wonder people lose their homes, their jobs, their marriages, etc. over paying for medical bills. I am not someone who was unhealthy – I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I eat organic foods, I am of “normal” bodymass and I exercise regularly…yet here I am with $10,000 in medical bills to pay nonetheless. This could happen to anyone; I just happen to be able to pay the bills myself without falling behind or losing anything important to me. But many people would not be able to, and this is why our health insurance in this country is such a national embarrassment – the health of our citizens should be of major concern for everyone.
Opponents will say things about the way unhealthy people live costing them more, or scream “socialism” and things like that. But above I pointed out that I am not unhealthy at all – and it still happened to me. If I could not have paid my bills, would I deserve to lose my home? My job? My credit? I don’t think so – this is health we are talking about, not some stupid mistake I made on my own. Every other single industrialized nation on earth has some form or another of universal health care, and it is about time that we step up to prevent disasters from happening to people who cannot pay their bills. I am lucky; I can pay mine. And I know this. But not everyone is this lucky, and not everyone gets away with only having to pay $10,000. Some are up to their eyeballs to the tune of hundreds of thousands in medical bills, which is not right for such a rich nation.
It could happen to anyone, including you, even if you have good insurance.
It is about time we don’t hold health care over people’s heads but rather start making it a priority for everyone, regardless of political affiliation. However we make it work and however it gets done, something needs to give. I was lucky this time…but I may not be next time. You might not be either. And it’s not right that anyone has to worry about how to pay for medical bills in this day and age; I think we can all agree on that.