If you’re an American, you know that whether or not to choose a healthcare model that considers health a basic human right is more than a little controversial. While our friends in Europe, the UK, and all over the world enjoy affordable healthcare and can get treatment for things like cancer without having to file bankruptcy, most people who get seriously ill in the States spend years trying to recover.
Unless it’s happened to you, though, you may not understand why anyone would want to switch from the private system we have – but after you read about the things that happened to these 16 people, you might get it just a bit more.
16. No regrets, but maybe there should be.
I got stabbed 10 times standing up for a woman. I was charged over 10000 for the ambulance ride, surgery, and additional medical.
It was worth every penny. But I was left in debt before my adult life started.
15. It’s not good for much.
There are also plenty of countries with mixed systems.
I’m currently in Australia, which is a mix of universal healthcare and mandatory heavily incentivise private insurance (for above a certain income level).
Our system is stretched, but my wife needed an MRI on private insurance last year, and from memory it cost less than $100 out of pocket, was done the next day, and it certainly will not have increased our premiums this year.
A couple of months back I ended up being an inpatient for 4 days for IV antibiotics and a minor but urgent procedure – I could have chosen to use my private insurance (which I’ve already paid for) or go public. I went public, as I’d have had to pay several hundred in out of pocket expenses in private. My total cost for 4 nights as a inpatient was $0, but I had to pay $15 for oral antibiotics on leaving.
All the private insurance is good for is speeding up elective surgery (and covering ambulances). I’d much rather get rid of it and increase funding to the public option.
14. It doesn’t have to be this way.
A couple of years ago our then 9yo daughter fell off her bike and ruptured her spleen. I drove her to our nearest hospital which is an hour away where we attended A&E.
We spent six hours at the local hospital whilst they assessed what was wrong and this included pain relief, sonogram and a CT scan. Once they found the ruptured spleen we were transferred by air ambulance to the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne (which would have been a 4.5 hour drive) where she stayed for six days seeing the best children’s sugeons etc.
And how much did that cost us you ask. Nothing, aside from the $80 per year fee to be in Ambulance Victoria. And RCH Melbourne is literally one of the leading kids hospitals in the world.
13. A couple of good reasons.
I don’t want to change providers every time I change jobs. I also don’t want to prop up an insurance industry worth billions of dollars.
The politician that manages to divorce health care/health insurance from employment will be revered through history.
12. People are risking healthcare.
Death or Debt ultimatums are very real here. Ive personally been involved in a few for myself or others. In the US its not uncommon for ppl to suffer potentially life threatening injuries (like my mom got drunk and full blown tripped face first into a stone hearth and had massive bruising on her face) and decide they dont want to risk the bill. Theyd rather risk death then have suffer even the possibility that the trip wasnt worth it.
My disease causes some pretty extreme heart and motor problems. I have severe dysautonomia and my vitals can get extremely unstable. Also have something called paroxysmal nonkinesigenic dyskinesia. Thats basically a descriptive diagnosis for episodes of uncontrollable violent flailing that can last hours.
I have my own ecg machine. Not even joking. Thats so that if i have an episode i can take my own ecg and decide whether to go to the ER. Bought a freaking textbook so i could interpret the damn thing. Had an episode where my heart rate was up to 170 beats a minute. I had severe ST depressions, chest pain, dizziness and my oxygen was tanking and i waited a couple hours to see if it would go away. Thankfully it did. The nearest hospital was over an hour away. Ppl SHOULD feel comfortable seeking health care when symptoms are that bad.
The one time i did call an ambulance i had been flailing on the bathroom floor for 5 solid hours after a heart and digestive episode triggered a motor episode. I had ripped off all my clothes cuz i cant control my temperature when that happens so i cycle between really hot and really cold. I lost control of my bowels and defecated on myself and had already collected 60 or so bruises from slamming against the walls and toilet.
They got me out somehow, i blew outa both ends in the ambulance. Nearly throttled the emt because the only thing i can control is my hands so i grip stuff. They needed me to loosen my grip on the rail to get an IV and my hand snapped right into their scrubs and i locked up again. Exploded the IV in my arm. Requested restraints for myself then broke them all.
They wheeled me into the ER naked and covered in puke and crap and it took them another 5 hours of giving me IV ativan, anti nausea and pain meds to get it to stop enough to get a CT to make sure i hadnt ruptured my bowels.
Thats how bad it had to be to make me choose the ambulance. My story isnt even that unique. The ambulance ride alone was 15k. I didnt even bother opening the hospital bill. I cant pay that off. Even a healthy person capable of working couldnt. Its gunna sit there in collections forever.
11. We’re always fighting.
Americans are other Americans worst enemy. Too many conflate ‘freedom’ with ‘selfishness’.
The middle classes who play this stupid game superficially “break even” or are too entrenched in the system, brain washed by the last 40 years of “murica is the greatest” to see there’s an issue.
Those two effects lead to them perceiving the system is fair, And it’s only the poor who are complaining because they can’t get something for nothing, and all they need to do is play the game and their dreams will come true.
This sentiment is prevalent in the UK too where homeless people and poor families are told to “just get a job” as if it’s that easy, or as if that would even solve the issues.
10. Utter filth.
My daughter had a fever abroad in france. We debated frantically if we should take her to the doctor because we didn’t know how our insurance would cover it. We thought the worst and that it was covid.
The doctor did a full exam for 30€. We were expecting a huge bill after. Nothing ever came.
Yeah, the healthcare system in the USA is utter corporatized filth. Burn it to the ground.
9. It makes us feel stuck.
Yup. Most people in the white collar world have good insurance and whatever white collar job they get will have good insurance. But there are a lot of people in govt jobs (generally very good insurance but lower pay) or other jobs with good insurance who feel they can’t leave because they have kids or take medications that are expensive out of pocket.
It’s crazy. If they separated insurance from our jobs, I bet a lot of people would quit and pursue something else.
8. We can’t all just move.
I met an American guy this summer at a party. He has type 1 diabetes and has had it for most of his life. He simply lost the genetic lottery. Even with insurance, he has to pay $200 $800 a month for insulin. In Sweden, he’d only have to pay roughly $275 a year because that’s the maximum you have to pay in a 12 month period for prescription medicine that is ruled “necessary”. Also, insulin is a special case. It’s free (with a prescription, of course).
I will go under the knife for minor surgery on the 23rd of this month. For this, I will pay the princely sum of $47. I almost died to a dangerous new strain of the flu as a child. I was hospitalized for weeks. Countless tests were done on my blood. My parents paid a minor fortune to keep me alive, wait, I mistyped that, my parents paid a pittance, roughly $200.
I convinced the American guy to make a concerned effort to immigrate to Sweden. He’s in the process of doing so now.
7. We’re all going broke.
I have worked in healthcare for 25 years and I can’t afford to go to a doctor!! They act like it’s some huge favor fir the insurance companies to pay for yearly “preventative care”, but god forbid they find anything on us.
Deductibles are so high that you’ll go broke trying to pay for addition testing and treatment.
6. Just live with it.
When I was 19 I had to go through jaw surgery. It required braces and orthodontic care for a year prior + half a year after the op, a 5 hour surgery so complicated only 5 or 6 surgeons in the country could do it, a stay for one day on intensive care, and 2 days stay in a regular hospital room. Plus consultations and after care from the surgeon, of course.
My parents had the ‘better’ insurance that covered some extra, which would be around €150 – €200 monthly (I think? It’s over 10 years ago, could be more or less). I am Dutch, we work with insurance cover for nationalised healthcare, so that insurance covered all of the above and we didn’t have to pay a penny.
If I was american, I would still have the same jaw condition. I could live with it, so in the US I would have just sucked it up and never addressed it.
5. This feels so slimy.
My infant son passed away after being in the NiCU for five days. LUCKILY my partner and I each had different health insurance companies so the NiCU stay was mostly covered.
The total bill was $56,000 for a baby we never took home.
After double coverage, we owed $3,500 out of pocket.
EFF. UNITED. STATES. HEALTHCARE.
4. We’re getting screwed.
Hospitals deliberately and carefully conceal costs so there’s no way to identify waste, to pint at a hospital and say “ they charge twice as much for worse care.” It’s a black box.
That needs to change.
3. Why the games?
Our plan when we thought our daughter (2 at the time) might have a heart defect was that I was going to quit so she’d qualify for the state health insurance that would pretty much cover it all. I even asked my job what my options were because our insurance sucked and they told me “honestly quit and get state insurance – then come back when she’s better”
Luckily, it was something minor that didn’t require surgery. But the echo alone cost me $900 after insurance and we had to pay at least half of it up front or our 2 year old would have been denied care.
2. It will break your heart.
Reading all of these comments is making me want to cry. My husband and I are American and are in about $20k in medical debt. We’re waiting for an appeal on what’s supposed to be his annual PT Scan for his heart condition.
We pay $300 a month for insurance that costs $600. The rest is set up to come out of our tax return…which means we actually end up owing money instead of getting money.
Things are so bad here that when he started having heart problems he refused to go anywhere for days because we couldn’t afford it.
1. They’re taking advantage of us.
Human Resources rep here and I say absolutely. Every month I have to give benefits meetings and help employees coming from other companies or unemployment make decisions on insurance as well as those moving on to go somewhere else and help them all make potentially life changing decisions on insurance which they really don’t even understand the basics.
PPO v HMO.. FSA v HSA.. deductible, coinsurance, copay, out of pocket max. The glazed eyes I see.
It reminds me of how my college allowed credit card companies to sign up 18 year old kids who knew nothing about finances or credit back in the 90’s/early 2000’s.
These are horrible stories, y’all. Why should we have to live like this?
We want to hear your stories and opinions in the comments!