Your recent editorial “Why do we have so much medical debt?” was appropriate in posing the question of why we must resort to charity to pay medical bills of so many people; but it doesn’t fully address the underlying problems with our current system of health care financing.
Ours is by far the most expensive health care system in the world. We spend an average of almost $12,000 for every man, woman and child on health care. Yet 30 million of us are uninsured and 40 million underinsured; that means over 40% of adults under age 65 have inadequate health care coverage. When they can’t pay for the care they need, they go without or the rest of us pay for them. Debt forgiveness such as the arrangement between Ballad and RIP Medical Debt or GoFundMe campaigns may sound good on the surface, but when 43 million Americans are in arrears on medical debt it isn’t the way to address the crisis! Every other industrialized country has universal health care coverage; none of them depends on charity to meet their health care needs.
While the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion have helped some previously uninsured people, neither completely protects individuals from major medical debt. Both are administered primarily by private, for-profit insurance companies. Far from being government run health insurance programs, they are essentially government handouts to the insurance industry which still leaves many beneficiaries struggling with medical debt.