On Jan. 17, CBS News ran a story about one person’s surprise billing from the emergency room where her daughter was treated. On Aug. 14, 2015, my son was hit by a car and flown to the St. Louis University Hospital trauma center. Stephen’s bills totaled $104,582, and the associated settlements totaled $23,266, or 22 percent of the amount invoiced. The fair market value of medical services is what they were willing to settle for, but uninsured Americans are billed so much more than fair market value. Price gouging is endemic in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries. This is just an example of the business model across the healthcare industry and not intended as an indictment of SLU/SSM, but this is something that must change.
The Affordable Care Act did not address the egregious billing practices by the healthcare and pharmaceutical businesses, and none of the Republican members of Congress even talk about the human impacts of the changes they propose. If the replacement for the ACA does nothing to address egregious billings, people not represented by government or an insurance company will be financially ruined, their credit ratings destroyed, and needed medical care will be avoided ultimately resulting in the death of some people.
I’ve lived in five countries (U.S., Canada, England, Germany, and Turkey) and had some form of health care in four of them. Doctors are well-off in all countries and cultures that have universal healthcare. There is no excuse other than greed why we can’t have quality healthcare available to everyone.
David Vail, O’Fallon