Healthcare In An Era Of Few Savings

A few weeks ago, Atlantic writer Neal Gabler described how, like many Americans, he has virtually no savings. While he was pounced on (after all, he has a nice house in the Hamptons), that shouldn’t distract us from the larger picture–too many Americans have virtually no savings to speak of. From the Federal Reserve:

Only 53 percent of respondents indicate that they could cover a hypothetical emergency expense costing $400 without selling something or borrowing money. Thirty-one percent of respondents report going without some form of medical care in the past year because they could not afford it.

“I had a health emergency” was the single most cited hardship at 37 percent (pdf).

Any system built around significant deductibles and co-payments becomes a nearly automatic way to go into debt when you don’t have $400. As I’ve noted many times, if total costs run to a couple thousand dollars (or more), there’s just no way to afford this.

Of course, we could make it such that the bottom 47 percent would essentially not pay for healthcare*. But at that point, when you are literally halfway to universal healthcare, why not just go the rest of the way?

*For the elderly and the poor, many, though not all, of these costs are picked up.

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2 Responses to Healthcare In An Era Of Few Savings

  1. Vickie Feminist says:

    I think the difference between the total coverage some poor people have thru Medicaid versus the high deductible so many folks have really fuels the hating the poor since experience health issues & costs for themselves, relatives and neighbors almost daily. Thanks for continuing to remind readers that high deductible plans are common and horrid. Let’s hope Medicare does get actually truly expanded, like 10 years not 2 years.

  2. RW Force says:

    Medicare Part B only covers 80% of most bills, leaving you to pay the other 20%.Often doctors charge more than Medicare will cover, leaving you with an even bigger bill.

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