When “They” Are “Us”

The balance of power (or powerlessness) just shifted. A shocking new survey from the Commonwealth Fund shows that we have reached the day when the MAJORITY of Americans (insured or not) report having serious trouble because of healthcare costs. Keep in mind that these grim statistics were recorded in 2007, before the current economic meltdown. What does the survey show? The headlines blare the number 79 million, but, frankly, that doesn’t mean a lot. When I was in medical school, signing all those scary papers for mega-loans wasn’t actually all that stressful, because, honestly, I couldn’t really imagine anything larger than about $100. Add a few zeros, and it all becomes a foreign language. For a slightly different take on the same data, try these shocking (or not, depending on your own experiences) numbers on for size:

1) “Nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults under 65 (116 million people) reported having problems with medical bills or debt, having put off needed care due to cost, or being uninsured or underinsured and consequently having high out-of-pocket medical costs relative to their income.”

2) 41 percent of working age Americans report “having medical bill problems or trouble paying off medical debts, up from 34 percent in 2005.”

3) Sixty-one percent of those with medical bill problems or accumulated medical debt were insured at the time care was provided. “Even adults with insurance reported problems in getting needed care,” Collins noted.
This is a sad, watershed moment for Americans. There is no longer a “those people” who have trouble with healthcare. Now it’s “us.”

Comments are closed.