By Frances Padilla
I heard a story recently about a man in northeastern Connecticut who was air-lifted by helicopter to Hartford Hospital. He had both a brain tumor causing head-splitting pain and he has an unrelated cancer. As if these health challenges weren’t enough, he received a bill for $34,000 from the air ambulance company because his insurance didn’t cover the cost! What is wrong with this picture?
Another story I recently heard is of a family on Connecticut’s shoreline who pays $1,115 per month now for a health plan with a $6K deductible. The new cost for the same plan in January 2017 will be $1,618 per month. Shopping around revealed no better options for them. They believe this increase is an outrage, reflecting the pricing power of our two major state health systems and large medical groups, and the monopolistic pricing power of patent-protected brand drug companies. And, insurers pass these increases along to us, of course with a markup to cover their own costs.
My brother recently spent several weeks working in Japan, a capitalist country where everyone is covered with high quality care, health care is not rationed and no one goes bankrupt because of medical debt. Yet in the U.S., medical debt is one of the most common reasons for personal bankruptcy.
We can do better in the US, and in Connecticut. Yes, even in these challenging times.
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