While our doctors, nurses and technicians are among the best in the world, our healthcare system itself is not even designed for care, but for the ever-expanding profits of insurance giants, drug makers drugs, hospital chains, system managers, financiers and other voracious components of the medical industry. As one doctor angrily said of corporate health care, “Debt is no longer just a bug in our system. It is one of the main products. We have a healthcare system almost perfectly designed to create debt. How sick is this?
To start, think about the term “medical industry”. The ethical essence of health care is that it is a human right, essential for each person and for the common good. But the corporate elites now claim to “own” our health by reducing the concept of health care to just one more industrial product available to those who are able to pay whatever the monopoly industrialists demand.
But this rationing of care meant the industry left a mass market of millions of patients untapped, so the bean counters of industry made a critical adjustment. Lower price? Ha – don’t be stupid! Instead, the industry-wide system has encouraged medical debt as a ticket to care. So you arrive sick or injured, scared and maybe incoherent or confused…and suddenly you’re hooked up to a long-term medical payment plan.
If this has happened to you, you are not alone. In a startling discovery, a recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that Americans — including 41% of all adults — are in shambles because of the so-called “care industry.” This includes bills from the system itself, as well as money borrowed from family or friends and medical debt that patients put on credit cards. Three years ago, an analysis estimated that families were suffering at least $195 billion in medical loan payments — a number that has risen dramatically since the pandemic.
Unfortunately, America has no shortage of big business CEOs who turn out to be crooks, ripping off consumers, workers and others. The most despicable of corporate scammers are those who profit from people’s health care needs.
We’ve had such notorious and infamous scammers as Medicare fraudster Senator Rick Scott, Big Pharma pricing scammer Martin Shkreli, and the Sackler family of opioid sellers. Worse, however, we now face an industry-wide epidemic of greed that both drives up costs for patients needing care and systematically pushes those who can’t pay the full inflated bill. in debt schemes that defraud them with inflated interest payments that last for years. Medical bankruptcies are skyrocketing.
Here is the most important statistic in the opaque and convoluted world of health care economics: Half of American adults don’t have the money to cover a $500 medical bill. As the system continues to rise in prices and profits, millions of families are forced by disease or injury into the dark valley of debt, inhabited by a shadowy web of ruthless debt collectors employed by the establishment. medical. But wait, you will tell me, I have health insurance! Yet constantly rising prices and out-of-pocket insurance requirements also put you in debt. A Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that 6 in 10 working-age adults with health coverage incurred medical debt in the past five years.
More perversely, having health care debt prevents many people from getting health care. One in seven Americans say the corporate system has denied them care because they have unpaid medical bills, and a two-thirds majority say they’ve put off care for fear of running up debt. As one expert put it, “The #1 reason – and the #2, 3, and 4 reasons – why people run into medical debt is because they don’t have the money. It’s not complicated.
What’s the most overwhelming thing about America’s healthcare system? The system. To help stop scammers and corporate profiteers, go to RIPMedicalDebt.org.
To learn more about Jim Hightower and read articles by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.
Photo credit: darko stojanovic at Pixabay