Obama/RomneyCare Still Leads to “Crushing Debt”: Predictable and Predicted

When it comes to Obamacare, I’m not an ogre: I realize that it’s improved a lot of people’s lives. But too many of the defenders ([cough]Krugman[cough]) fail to acknowledge that, for too many people, healthcare is still unaffordable, even though they have insurance. Better than is not the same as good. From the NY Times (boldface mine):

But a new survey, the first detailed study of Americans struggling with medical bills, shows that insurance often fails as a safety net. Health plans often require hundreds or thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket payments — sums that can create a cascade of financial troubles for the many households living paycheck to paycheck.

Carrie Cota learned the hard way that health insurance does not guarantee financial security. Ms. Cota, a 56-year-old travel agent from Rosamond, Calif., learned she had the autoimmune disease lupus in 2007. She ran up thousands of dollars in medical and dental bills and ended up losing her job, and eventually her house….

Among those who reported having problems paying their bills despite having insurance, 63 percent said they used up all or most of their savings; 42 percent took on an extra job or more work hours; 14 percent moved or took in roommates; and 11 percent turned to charity.

Randy Farris, 58, a factory worker from Conger, Minn., needed a knee replacement three years ago. His insurance covered 80 percent of the bill, but he needed to cash in an I.R.A. to pay his $4,000 share. “I haven’t been to the doctor since because I don’t want any more doctor bills,” he said. His wife’s retirement savings had been wiped out years before, he said, when he used them to pay her hospital bills after she died of cancer.

The deductibles and co-payments are too damn high (to use a phrase). I noted six years ago that the high deductibles made healthcare no more affordable (in fact, I noted this about Romneycare in 2008). This was not only predictable, but predicted.

Just as people aren’t saving for retirement because they don’t have any damn money, the out-of-pocket costs are difficult to avoid for those living paycheck-to-paycheck:

While the author makes it sound like people who choose high-deductible plans are being foolish (those stupid poors!), they often don’t have a choice. As I noted years ago, they can’t afford the low deductible plans. Essentially, they’re trying to skate by on the plan with the cheapest monthly payment because they can barely afford that, while hoping they don’t get sick (or possibly get a better job). If they do get sick, instead of going into ten of thousands of dollars of debt, they will ‘only’ go into thousands of dollars of debt. If you don’t believe me, the Boston Federal Reserve has made the same point

We need to stop telling people not to believe their lying eyes. It’s not helping. Instead, we need to discuss how to fix these particular problems. Or maybe just move to single-payer. A boy can dream, can’t he?

We really need to fix this.

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4 Responses to Obama/RomneyCare Still Leads to “Crushing Debt”: Predictable and Predicted

  1. Gingerbaker says:

    Right on.

  2. sg says:

    good F’ing luck. We are doomed.

  3. Often people are not choosing high deductible plans, their employers are! Especially low paying employers. Which makes it doubly stupid to think low wage employees are making this “choice” to get high deductible plans.

    • Nocardia says:

      I agree! As a country we really can afford to come up with a better healthcare system for everybody.

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