Is this true about healthcare in the United States: "People pay horrific premiums and ridiculous deductibles and have to become indebted if they seek care"?
When my mom was 43 years old she was diagnosed with breast cancer. The doctors asked if she wanted to be treated. Since she wanted to stay around until my little sisters and I grew up, my parents decided to opt for treatment, even though they knew it was expensive. We were fortunate enough that my dad happened to work for an insurance company and had been paying for the best insurance money could buy. Before she was diagnosed with the “preexisting” condition of cancer, a Blue cross Blue Shield family package was costing something like $7,300 per year. She underwent chemotherapy and radiation for six years. The insurance company didn’t cover hospital stays so my sisters and I were caring for her at home. Every year the insurance premiums rose, and my father kept paying even though the coverage went from 80% to 60%, then down to 40%. I have no idea where he was getting the money to keep paying them. He had been trying to hide the financial issues from us at the time because my sisters were just kids. In November of 2006 the doctors told her it was a lost cause and she came home, and died three days later. Even though my dad had kept the insurance going, they refused to approve any of the treatments for her last three months and he was stuck with hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills. He used his kids’ college savings, life insurance and money from selling the house to pay for the medical debt.When I was just a teenager and all this was happening, I didn’t have any perspective as to how broken the medical insurance system was. Everyone acted like it was normal - which it was, since there wasn’t really any alternative. My dad even said that the United States has “the best healthcare system in the world”. However, when I turned 18 I began working in the medical industry. This was pre-ACA (Obamacare) and the doctor that I worked for had to go to court every week to defend his patients who were being denied insurance coverage. They were mostly occupational injuries and it was mind-boggling to see the audacity of these insurance lawyers. Since when was falling off a ladder a “pre-existing condition”? (That was one of the real claims - I can’t make this stuff up.) The insurance company won that one, too.I love the U.S. and all of the opportunities that it provides, but the fact that affordable healthcare is even a debate here makes me sick. It just serves as proof that in this country corporate money reigns supreme, and taxpayers pay for it — many of them with their lives.*Edit*I’m astonished at the amount of upvotes this has received. I now feel obligated to add some more concrete statistics so that this little anecdote will have more context.First, I don’t blame anyone for being confused about America’s healthcare system. This pie chart from the National Priorities Project helps to support the common misconception that America has “the best healthcare in the world”. Simple, right?Here’s The Critical Question:If the United States spends this much on health care, in fact it spends disproportionately more on healthcare than any other country, why do 50,000 Americans die every year because they lack health insurance? (According to findings in 2012 by Harvard researchers and the US Census Bureau; Geyman, 2017, p.98) Why are people forced to choose between bankrupting treatment or a slow, painful death? Where does $1,051.8 billion dollars actually go?It’s an easy problem to ignore with the billions of dollars spent by insurance and pharmaceutical companies on advertising and lobbying campaigns to influence American perceptions, but if you look behind the curtain you’ll see that it’s all just a very well-orchestrated business venture. A universal (and ethical) healthcare system would cost private healthcare companies their profits, and they won’t go down without a fight.Edit - July 25th, 2019:Here’s the type of wording you’ll see on Blue Cross Blue Shield (one of the biggest US health insurance companies):An American Tragedy: Healthcare For ProfitEllen Cantarow provides a concise summary of key points from Dr. John Geyman’s Crisis in US Health Care: Corporate Power vs The Common Good (Copernicus Healthcare: Washington, 2017, 377 pp.) here: http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/44811-focus-an-american-tragedy-healthcare-for-profit”Health Care Lobbying in the United StatesThis report by Steven H Landers, MD and Ashwini R Sehgal, MD in the American Journal of Medicine (2004) sheds some light on the roots of the broken American Healthcare system: http://www.amjmed.com/article/S0002-9343(03)00803-9/fulltext