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Healthcare Expenses: The Leading Cause of US Consumer Bankruptcies

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High Healthcare Expenses: The Leading Cause of US Consumer Bankruptcies






by Stephen Lendman (<a href="http://stephenlendman.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">stephenlendman.org[/url] - <a href="http://stephenlendman.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Home - Stephen Lendman[/url])

The US is the only developed nation without some form of universal coverage. The world’s richest nation doesn’t give a hoot about its ordinary people, serving its privileged class exclusively.

It’s no different whether Republicans or undemocratic Dems are in charge, their agendas similar on major issues, differences between them largely rhetorical or what’s pursued for political advantage.

Along with food, shelter and clothing, healthcare is a fundamental human right. Yet it’s commodified and unaffordable for growing millions of Americans because of its high cost - around double what people in other developed countries pay, an untenable situation.

In America, healthcare is rationed based on the ability to pay. It’s a boon to enrich insurers, drug companies and large hospital chains - at the expense of unaffordability for countless millions.

Around 30 million Americans are uninsured, most others way underinsured - for countless numbers one high-cost illness away from medical bankruptcy.

Around two million Americans are faced with it annually because of unaffordable medical expenses, including insured individuals.

Obamacare was a bandaid solution, written by healthcare industry providers, serving their interests, not patients, making a dysfunctional system worse. It’s why medical bankruptcies are a festering issue.

Even when avoiding the nuclear option, an estimated 56 million Americans suffer from the ravages of unaffordable medical expenses annually - at times forced to choose between paying rent or servicing mortgages and high medical expenses.

The problem is worsening as incomes fail to keep pace with medical costs, rising faster than inflation, notably insurance and prescription drugs. Once cheap in America long ago, they’re exorbitantly priced today.

In 2017, 45% of Americans said they’d be hard-pressed to pay an unexpected $500 medical expense unless able to get loan help, either repaying it over time or not at all, according to one study.

Most insured Americans use all or most of their savings to pay medical expenses. A common way to cut costs is by skipping medications. It risks making a bad situation worse.

Yet tens of millions of Americans choose this option because of affordability, including individuals with prescription drug coverage, struggling with the high cost of co-payments.

For patients with cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and/or other major illnesses, skipping medications can be fatal. Delaying them can make overall health worse.

A Pew Research study found “a substantial majority (of Americans) consider quality health care unaffordable.”

According to <a class="linkified" href="http://bankruptcylaws.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">BankruptcyLaws.com[/url], “(m)edical  bankruptcy is only available to those individuals who are considered a ‘medically distressed’ debtor.”

It applies to individuals with at least 25% of their annual income going for medical or related expenses.

Individuals accruing the same percentage through lost wages or unpaid leave for at least a month because of illness or injury also qualify. The US Bankruptcy Code makes no distinction between medical and other type debts - mortgage, student loans and credit cards the major categories.

Most often, student loans are not dischargeable through bankruptcy. Over 44 million borrowers have a collective $1.5 trillion debt obligation, $37,172 on average for the class of 2016.

Outstanding student loans are the second highest consumer debt category after mortgages - most individuals unable to qualify for relief through bankruptcy.

The so-called Brunner standard is the legal test in circuit court proceedings. It requires proving extreme hardship likely to continue for the term of indebtedness, along with having shown good faith efforts to repay.

Most often, student loans must be repaid as long as they remain outstanding. Federal laws mandate it, the extreme hardship exception aside.

If future federal legislation affects medical indebtedness the same way, millions of Americans may be unable to discharge their debt through bankruptcy.

Medical bankruptcy is a major issue, worsening as healthcare becomes more unaffordable for millions of Americans.

A study published by the <a href="https://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/10.2105/AJPH.2018.304901?eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=a5697b7e-8ffc-4373-b9d2-3eb745d9debb" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">American Public Health Association[/url] (APHA) showed medical expenses contributed to two-thirds of all bankruptcies in America.

The figure is virtually unchanged since enactment of Obamacare in 2010. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act left healthcare unaffordable for tens of millions of Americans.

The APHA study found middle-Americans must vulnerable to medical bankruptcy, Obamacare not helping them.

Poor Americans are less likely to seek bankruptcy as an option for relief from unpayable medical expenses because they have few, if any, assets to protect. They also can’t afford legal help for court proceedings.

Bankruptcy filers for medical reasons are in worse health and more likely to skip needed treatments and medications, according to the study findings.

Americans can have whatever they want based on the ability to pay. Millions can’t afford essentials to life like proper healthcare.

The only solution is universal coverage, Medicare for all - everyone in, no one left out.

According to Physicians for a National Health Program, eliminating insurers, providing no one with healthcare, will save about $500 billion annually - relieving physicians and hospitals of a bureaucratic nightmare.

It would also free up this money for universal coverage, the only equitable option.

VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: <a href="http://stephenlendman.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">stephenlendman.org[/url] (<a href="http://stephenlendman.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Home - Stephen Lendman[/url]). Contact at <a href="/cdn-cgi/l/email-protection#8be7eee5efe6eae5f8ffeefbe3eee5cbf8e9e8ece7e4e9eae7a5e5eeff" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span class="__cf_email__" data-cfemail="2b474e454f464a45585f4e5b434e4 56b5849484c4744494a4705454e5f ">[email protected]</span>[/url].

My newest book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
https://claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html


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Beyond Obamacare to Improved Medicare for All
« Reply #1 on: Mar 04, 2019, 05:38:43 am »
 

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Beyond Obamacare to Improved Medicare for All






With about 100 co-sponsors, Dem Rep. Pramila Jayapal introduced the Medicare For All Act of 2019, saying the following:

“Today’s healthcare system fails to provide quality, affordable healthcare as a right to all people living in the United States.”

“Nearly 30 million Americans are uninsured and at least 40 million more cannot afford the costs of their co-pays and deductibles” - wages failing to keep pace with annual healthcare cost increases exacerbating things.

“The current healthcare system in the United States is ineffective, inefficient and outrageously expensive. It is time to remove the profit motive in healthcare, to resolve the inefficiencies and to guarantee quality healthcare to every person living in the United States.”

“The Medicare for All Act of 2019 improves and expands the overwhelmingly successful and popular Medicare program, so that every person living in the United States has guaranteed access to healthcare with comprehensive benefits.”

America, the world’s richest nation, is the only developed one without some form of universal healthcare.

Britain has it. So do France, Germany, Canada, Japan, North and South Korea, Norway since 1912, Cuba, Venezuela, most other Latin and Central American countries, India, Pakistan, Russia, and numerous other nations. China intends having it for all its people by 2020.

Not America under marketplace medicine – except for eligible Medicare and Medicaid recipients. The world’s richest country lacks an essential human right because of the power of insurance giants, Big Pharma, large hospital chains, and healthcare industry lobbyists representing them.

Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) is a US advocacy group for universal healthcare. Its data show an improved Medicare for all would save about $500 billion annually.

It would eliminate insurers’ overhead, underwriting, billing, sales and marketing departments, as well as huge profits and exorbitant executive pay - along with the bureaucratic nightmare under today’s system for physicians and hospitals, needing administrative staffs for costly paperwork, unrelated to caring for patients.

No one ever visited an insurer to receive treatment for illnesses or injuries. Eliminating them would be a major cost savings - more than enough to provide quality healthcare for everyone, no one left out like under today’s system. PNHP’s new “Beyond the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare): A Physicians’ Proposal for Single-Payer Health Care Reform” addresses one of pressing issues of our time in the US.

PNHP proposed a workable “publicly financed, non-profit single-payer national health program that would fully cover medical care for all Americans” - for the first time in the nation’s history, fixing its dysfunctional system, a fundamental human right based on the ability to pay, too often a pay or die system.

A summary of the plan is as follows:

Its key feature is “removal of all financial barriers to medical care.” Its savings will assure comprehensive coverage for all Americans, including immigrants - no one left out, at no increase in total healthcare costs.

It would establish a cost control mechanism, along with assuring free choice of providers for all. Billing patients would be eliminated, other than perhaps for tourists becoming ill when in America from abroad.

“Coverage would include outpatient and inpatient medical care as well as rehabilitation, mental health care, long-term care, dental services, and prescription drugs.”

“(T)he plan improves on traditional Medicare’s benefits and expands coverage to all Americans. It would eliminate premiums, co-pays, deductibles, and co-insurance.”

Like Medicare, it would be federally financed and administered at the federal, state and local levels - eliminating the need for private insurance.

According to Government Accountability Office, Congressional Budget Office estimates, and several consulting firms, administrative savings from universal single-payer coverage would be enough to provide quality health and dental care for all Americans - with no increase overall spending.

“Physicians in private practice would continue to practice on a fee-for-service basis with fee levels set in negotiations with the” National Health Program (NHP), PNHP explained.

“Physicians working in nonprofit hospitals, clinics, capitated group practices, HMO’s, and integrated health systems would be salaried.”

As in other countries worldwide, drug prices would be negotiated with producers, bulk purchases lowering costs, the way things work abroad.

Pharmacists would be paid wholesale costs plus a dispensing fee for services provided.

Marketplace medicine based on the ability to pay would be eliminated. “Investor ownership of the health care delivery system (hospitals, clinics, etc.) would not be allowed because it raises costs and reduces quality,” said PNHP.

“Regionally dominant health systems and Accountable Care Organizations would be publicly controlled to prevent them from exploiting oligopoly market power.”

Financing the program would combine current revenue sources with modest new taxes - overall costs to consumers becoming far less than now.

The NHP would be a boon to all Americans, notably the vast majority of middle and low income ones, along with millions too poor to afford healthcare the way it should be when ill or injured.

Universal healthcare is a fundamental right for everyone whose time has come. Making it the law of the land requires longterm struggle - advancing things a step at a time, enlisting mass public support until attaining it is achieved.

That’s how all longterm struggles worth fighting for are won.

VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: stephenlendman.org (Home - Stephen Lendman). Contact at <a href="/cdn-cgi/l/email-protection" class="__cf_email__" data-cfemail="adc1c8c3c9c0ccc3ded9c8ddc5c8c 3eddecfcecac1c2cfccc183c3c8d9 83">[email protected][/url]

My newest book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
https://claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html


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