Kayla Parks, Contributing Writer
Every year in America, it is estimated that hospitals overcharge Americans by about $10 billion. Blue Water Credit shared an article covering 30 sickening facts about the healthcare crisis and medical debt in the United States. The healthcare crisis is increasingly becoming one of the biggest problems every American is bound to face. In short, the healthcare crisis includes the outrageous costs of common healthcare, corruption behind healthcare providers and the lack of coverage by insurance companies.
Kate Swift, a 21-year-old average American, has experienced these problems firsthand and in different perspectives. While Swift is insured, she still struggles with small issues, such as paying for doctor’s visits, buying antibiotics and covering the costs of additional lab work.
“I never really grasped how much these tests would cost me. I thought that since I was insured, surely the insurance would help me out. Instead, staying in the hospital overnight for blood tests, CAT scans and monitoring by doctors cost me easily $3000. I don’t know anyone who can pay $3000 out of pocket,” Swift says.
Swift worked in the medical field for almost two years at a community health center and witnessed how the healthcare crisis affected other everyday Americans.
“I can’t count the number of elderly people who would ask the doctors for assisted suicide. It was unsettling. To see someone who would rather end their life than to live a life in debt, it just feels unreal,” she said.
The problem is deeper than insurance, unfortunately. Having insurance costs giant sums of money with few rewards. Even with insurance factored in, many doctor’s visits and prescriptions are still unaffordable. Those without insurance face even more looming debt, emergencies are inevitable and will happen one way or another. The harsh reality for many individuals with or without insurance in a medical emergency is this: to go into debt or to risk being in pain, suffering or even death.
Andrea O’Brien, the residential admissions director at A.T. Still University, also disapproves with the state of the country’s healthcare system.
“The cost of visits and insurance are skyrocketing, and the system behind it is corrupt. The fact that we can be denied our health due to our financial situation is absurd,” O’Brien says.
While she is outspoken on the topic, she also acknowledges it isn’t a problem with an easy solution.
“The problem has gotten so big, I know it won’t go away overnight, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. People get so caught up in how big a problem is that they convince themselves that there is no way it can be fixed. It can be done, but it’s going to take some time,” she said.
In 2017, the New York Post released an article discussing five scary facts about the United States healthcare systems. One of the most fascinating, and equally unsettling, facts discussed was that medical providers make more money whenever they mess up. Insurance companies will pay for their half of the initial visit/procedure, but if anything goes wrong at the fault of the doctor, the insurance company pays them again for the next visit to fix the mistake. Healthcare providers are paid by insurance companies on a “fee-for-service” basis. The corruption goes past the insurance companies and continues to fall at the feet of medical providers.
While this crisis isn’t going to be fixed within the next few years, people are still trying to slowly change the situation by making health insurance personal, letting states experiment with Medicaid, and electing politicians who want to change the issue for the better. Even so, the issue boils down to one hard-to-swallow question: At what cost are people willing to live?