Letter: Health care industry is creating fear

Published 6:35 pm Thursday, February 6, 2020

Health care issues are No. 1 with voters in 2020. Why? Because to get sick in this country is scary. We are afraid.

A friend in Fairmont last summer was carried to a hospital emergency room because she could not move (the sky was turning — could not stand — later diagnosis: vertigo). After four hours in the ER including CAT scans, the bill was $14,000.)

Now, my friend is no slouch. She works. She works hard. Two jobs. She is in her 60s. She has health care insurance offered through one of her employers. On top of paying the monthly premium and co-pays for prescription drugs, she had entered into an agreement with her medical provider to pay fifty dollars per month on a past outstanding medical bill of $ 500.

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The ER visit costs to her were decreased. After insurance kicked in, she owed $ 4,000. Her provider though now wanted $250 per month. My single friend’s annual gross income last year: $30,000. She could not afford the increased debt. Her bill was sent to collections this past month.

Her out-of-pocket max is $5,000 in a calendar year. A new year has started. She visits the ER again for an illness tomorrow she conceivably could incur another $14,000 for a four-hour visit. Right? Suddenly she owes, not four, but $8,000.

Huh? Scary? Full of fear? What to do? Get a third job? What if she loses her current jobs?

Money and fear. That is all the current health care industry generates. Is there a better way? Less full of angst and foreboding? Does this scenario described above make you angry? What do you think? How do you feel about my friend’s problem?

Peter Engstrom