The Cost of American Healthcare

I recently wrote about an experience I had at the beginning of the year when I had to have emergency surgery to patch a perforated ulcer in my stomach. This is the first time in my life that I have had a major operation like that.

I’ve undergone two shoulder surgeries, a carpal tunnel release and surgical removal of my impacted wisdom teeth, but all of those were planned out in advance, and the shoulder surgeries and carpal tunnel release were all covered by the lawsuit I was in from the car accident which caused the injury. My wisdom teeth cost us about $1,000 out of pocket due to pretty good insurance. Therefore, I was wholly unprepared for my statement after this surgical procedure.

I work in this field and I know that healthcare is unbelievably expensive in this country. I guess I was just somewhat naive to just how expensive it could be.

The Bill

For just the operation, the hospital billed my insurance a whopping $64,448.06. On top of that, they charged (separately, for miscellaneous items) $11,467, totaling $75,915.06. For one day. And one surgery.

I am fortunate: My insurance is paying so much that my responsibility is only (ha! only…) $5,180.45. Now, that’s not going to be paid at once because I just so happened to total my car a couple of weeks ago when I had a seizure behind the wheel – so that money will go to a new vehicle.

An Alternate – But Common – Reality

Imagine if I didn’t have insurance. If I was working two (or more) jobs just to keep my head above water and I needed emergency surgery. And imagine if – in order to survive – I would be on the hook for $75,915.06 (plus some for the following days spent in a hospital bed).

Sure, they don’t charge interest, but that would eventually be put on my credit. And once it’s on my credit, my ability to purchase items that I need would be greatly inhibited. I use this detailed example because I’ve seen it play out again and again through friends, acquaintances and family members, alike.

Final Thoughts

As one of the “best” countries in the world, I find it especially sad that a health emergency can ruin someone’s life so quickly. I’ve written about the dire state of our healthcare system before, and my experiences as both a medical professional and patient have only furthered my distaste of the system.

I do not think it is right for us to claim to be the best country in the world when we’re the only developed nation in which an emergency can bankrupt you.

I am very grateful for the team that saved my life that day. I’m grateful to the nurses and patient care technicians and I want them to be paid well, but the truth of the matter is that most of them aren’t even paid enough to live on. Especially the patient care technicians.

So, if we’re spending so much money on care, bankrupting those who have no choice but to get care and the people on the front lines aren’t making enough to live on, how can we claim to be number one? We can’t.

I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I know one thing is for sure: What we’re doing isn’t working.

6 thoughts on “The Cost of American Healthcare

  1. WOW Hillary, this was an amazing post that sadly is SO true! The US is the only developed country that doesn’t offer free healthcare and to me that is ridiculous! The powers that be seem to work closely with the insurance companies to ensure they are paid very well! It really is sad how much we pay for healthcare and then the bills are absolutely crazy! I hate to say this and please forgive me if this sounds too harsh, but the US is not the best country and I wonder if it ever was. With all the medications and doctors appointments I have the out of pocket is WAY too high and it is sad!
    I don’t know how I missed this, but I didn’t know you were in an accident because of a seizure. I am SO glad you are okay because if anything too tragic happened to you I would be so sad. You are such an amazing person and nothing bad should ever happen to you. I wish you much luck with getting another car and hope you rested so you are feeling better.
    All my love Hillary!
    Alyssa

    • Thank you, Alyssa!

      I agree with you completely! We truly aren’t. We aren’t even the “free-est” country! We like to think we’re above all but the statement that a country is only as good as it’s poorest people is completely true. We pay a lot in taxes every year, yet seem to benefit very little from them. You are right about the insurance companies! They pay our representatives a hefty portion of money to get what they want, and since money talks, those representatives listen! It’s a sad state of affairs all the way around, unfortunately.

      I am much better, thank you! I hope you’re well, too! ❤

      • Honestly, I have know we are not the free-est country out there for a long time. I also believe our votes don’t matter, no matter what they say. Politicians are only out to help keep themselves and their rich friends richer and no one cares about those that live paycheck to paycheck. It does break my heart the state of this country. Please don’t hate me for saying this, but I am not all the proud to be an American any longer. I firmly believe the president is the biggest liar ever and the most corrupt person ever. He has created a massive division among the American people and it cause LOTS of issues. My mother and I disagree so passionately about this our conversations end in hostility. I can not believe she supports him and can’t believe I came from her.

        I am so glad you are feeling much better!!!

  2. Hi Hillary! I hope you are doing well! I wanted to ask you if you would mind if I share in post in a few days how amazing I find you and your blog. If you would prefer I not do this, I will respect your wishes. I just really wanted others to know just how incredibly strong you are!!

    • Oh my gosh, I would be honored! I’m so grateful that you think that and I feel exactly the same way about you! Please, feel free to post whatever you’d like! ❤

      • I am so glad you are okay with this because I do think other people could benefit learn so much from you! You are an honest and lovely person that I so incredibly inspirational!

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