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Letter: Medical bills can add up fast if you have no insurance
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Early in December, I had to miss work and visit the doctor. Winter has never been kind to me, and, as I grow older, my body becomes more susceptible to the changing of the seasons. I was diagnosed with a touch of bronchitis and given two shots and two prescriptions, a simple diagnosis with a simple cure. Except that the latter turned out not to be the case. When my symptoms persisted, I went back two weeks later and received three more prescriptions.

My first bill was just over $250, and my second was just shy of $200. My two trips to the pharmacy set me back another $150. Add to this the one day I missed from work without pay for an additional $200, and my total bill for a touch of bronchitis stands at $800.

I am not telling this story to demonstrate how adequate my simple math skills are, nor am I introducing some tirade against the medical profession. I am pointing out that $800, for most of us, is a significant sum of money. For many people, that sum is equal to two weeks of salary.

I would like to point out now, that I am very lucky. I have decent insurance, and I also put extra money away each week into a HSA to cover my deductible. Do not feel sorry for me.

But not everyone is so fortunate. Many people do not have insurance, or cannot cover their deductible or copay (especially, as this was, in the weeks leading up to Christmas). What about these unfortunate souls?

There is Medicaid for the poor, and Medicare for the elderly, some would argue. The emergency room cannot turn people away is another defense of the status quo. While both of these are true, neither are good, or long-term, solutions.

There are toddlers in our state on Medicaid who are put on waiting lists because they are not sick enough. The guardians of these children are often told that if their symptoms worsen, they should be taken to the emergency room. Many poor people go to the ER first, because of a lack of insurance, and then never pay the bill because they can not afford to do so. I have had older people tell me how much they looked forward to their golden years only to quip that by the time they got there, all their gold was taken by hospitals and doctors. This is a problem that affects everyone: every income level, every age.

Why then, do we not have a solution that works for everyone?

Socialized medicine. The words scare us, and most of us do not even know why. Single-payer option. We reject the idea that works all over the world without giving it much thought. We are taught that the government cannot run anything adequately, but we are taught that by corporations that profit from our illnesses. We can live better, but we must take the time to educate ourselves.

Jeff Casper