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Who should pay the healthcare costs of the uninsured?

  1. Feb 13, 2008 #1
    Let's say John Smith Uninsured suffers a trauma which costs $100K to treat.

    He has min wage job and $2K in the bank.

    Who should absorb the $100K cost?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 13, 2008 #2

    EnumaElish

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    You must be assuming that he receives the $100K treatment. In many cases he won't.
     
  4. Feb 13, 2008 #3

    Evo

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    Many hospitals work with charities, government agencies like Medicaid, etc... to help cover the cost of "private" care, many also offer low cost financing if there is still a balance due.
     
  5. Feb 13, 2008 #4
    Well I had similar situation, but my bill was 5000 dollars, insurance paid $4000. They made me an offer for 250 dollars. I accepted, but I was curious if the patient had 100,000 and they make him an offer for 25,000 with his minimum wage I don't think he can afford it.
     
  6. Feb 13, 2008 #5
    hospitals can't deny treatment
     
  7. Feb 13, 2008 #6

    Evo

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    The hospital ends up eating the cost of whatever portion is not covered by anything, which of course results in higher medical costs.
     
  8. Feb 13, 2008 #7

    EnumaElish

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    Give me an example of a single-shot procedure that costs $100K and must be supplied by a hospital, without discretion. Organ transplants?
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2008
  9. Feb 13, 2008 #8

    EnumaElish

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    Or lower quality (e.g., underinvestment).
     
  10. Feb 13, 2008 #9
    Maybe a better question is "why shouldn't a well-off first world country not have universal health-care for all citizens?"
     
  11. Feb 13, 2008 #10

    Moonbear

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    Yep, it's the reason everyone else has to pay $10 for a box of tissues if they're hospitalized.

    Of course, for someone who can't afford the bill, the hospital can afford to write off things like the box of tissues that don't really cost what they're billed, and just charge for the things that really are expensive, like the anesthesia, and time for the doctors and technicians, and fees for using the diagnostic equipment. And, if that still doesn't bring it down to what you can afford, yeah, the cost just gets distributed to everyone.
     
  12. Feb 13, 2008 #11
    So what you're saying is that if we had some form of universal health care, such that everyone had full coverage, the overall price of health would go down as hospitals would no longer have a valid reason for charing 10 dollars for a box of tissues?
     
  13. Feb 13, 2008 #12

    Moonbear

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    No, because we'd just be paying through our taxes and tacking on the inefficient government bureaucracy that would be assigned to run the system instead of paying for tissue boxes that are the current method of redistributing the cost of healthcare from those who can afford to to those who can't.

    The actual costs will still remain the same, and those who can afford it will still be paying for those who can't, and the only real difference is whether you trust private insurance companies or government bureaucracy more for squandering away your hard-earned money, and which one will have the more expensive overhead.

    Prescription coverage is the more limiting concern for those with low incomes and no insurance. While a hospital can't turn away someone in need of care, regardless of whether or not they can afford it, a pharmacy can refuse to fill a prescription if you can't pay for it. If you've survived your illness past your hospital stay, you shouldn't have to choose between filling your half dozen prescriptions that will keep you alive and buying food to keep yourself alive.
     
  14. Feb 13, 2008 #13
    Hospital ERs are not supposed to deny treatment for any medical emergency. If you talk to the EMS crews in many urban areas, they soon learn not to take the homeless to certain hospitals.
     
  15. Feb 13, 2008 #14
    But who would pay for all the prime time TV ads for the pills you should ask your doctor about?
     
  16. Feb 13, 2008 #15
    Side effects may include: poverty.
     
  17. Feb 13, 2008 #16

    BobG

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    Hospitals can't deny emergency treatment. I don't think they have to give you an organ transplant unless you can pay for it. They would have to try to keep you alive for a while once your own organ failed.

    You could still wind up with the same thing regardless of whether your health care is provided by the government or by private insurance. Both can limit the types of services they provide. So, regardless of how medical care is paid for, the cost will stay the same if the same amount of services are provided.

    Between the government and private insurance, the government is more likely to waste money than private insurance companies. Private insurance companies are in it for a profit and will maximize the difference between what they're bringing in and paying out at just about any cost. First of all, they can make sure they're not paying out money for unnecessary medical treatment. Deny every claim filed by a patient. The people that really want or need the medical treatment will fight about their claim being denied. Some of the people won't fight about having their claim denied. They just won't get the treatment - most likely because they didn't really want or need it.

    Okay, only the cheap, shady insurance companies do that. After all, most of the larger, more reputable insurance companies were very good about paying home insurance claims after Katrina, which is why just about all residents have rebuilt their homes and almost no one lives in FEMA trailers anymore.

    Okay, I'm on a personal rant about insurance companies because someone backed into one of our cars. After six weeks of leaving messages and still receiving no contact from the insurance company, my insurance company got ahold of them and patched us together on the phone. Their insurance company says the damage to the tire has to be because of prior damage since there's no damage to the body. Their adjustor almost e-mailed me the pictures they had of the vehicle, but, unfortunately, I went off on the guy, so he didn't send me the pictures. I hate insurance companies.
     
  18. Feb 13, 2008 #17

    russ_watters

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    No need to split hairs here. It's probably unlikely to wrack up that much of a bill without the hospital checking on how it will get paid, but several tens of thousands in an hour or two is a piece of cake in case of a bad car accident.
     
  19. Feb 13, 2008 #18
    That is only after you show that you can not afford your medical bills (like through filing bankruptcy). It is a myth that hospitals simply eat the cost for a procedure automatically if a patient doesn't have enough cash to pay for a procedure. Hospitals do use collection agencies to collect on bills owed to them. On top of that they can repossess things like a car or even a house to collect on a bill. There are countless stories of people having to sell everything they own, like a car and a house, and liquidating everything from their entire 401 (k) retirment accounts to all of their stocks and bonds that they own to pay for a medical bill. It is now much more difficult to file for personal bankruptcy than it used to be. Only after someone has showed that they can't pay a bill, will the hospital eat the cost. Also, in some states it is perfectly legal for hospitals to make regular withdraws from an ex-patient's bank account without their expressed written permission to collect on bills.


    This is the reality of health care in America. Hospitals and the health care system are set up as a business and strive for maximum profits first, patient health care second.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2008
  20. Feb 13, 2008 #19


    How do you know? Maybe if the millions of people who are un- and under- insured would seek PREVENTATIVE treatment first instead of only going to seek medical treatment when it became an emergency. Emergency medicine is the least effective and most expensive form of health care. Right now there are 1.1 million underinsured children (i.e. children who do have insurance, but have insurance policies that refuse to pay for vaccinations) living in the US who do not receive all of the recommended childhood vaccinations by physicians. What would cost more, treating one of those children and the outbreak they could potentially cause if they contracted a disease that could have been prevented by a vaccination in the first place or simply offering vaccinations to all?

    Also, what exactly is the difference between being taxed by the government for health care vs. not being taxed but having to pay premiums, co-pays, deductibles, etc? The latter is just like being taxed. Would the government be inefficient? Who knows. But I don't see many people complaining when they get their SS checks in the mail.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2008
  21. Feb 13, 2008 #20

    Evo

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    Wrong, that is for anyone that is uninsured.

    My daughter's 19 year old ex-boyfriend has Crohn's Disease and he had a bad attack because he wasn't taking his medication (his idiot parents wouldn't pay for his medication and he couldn't afford it). She took him to the emergency room of one of the finest private hospitals here and they treated him. Upon checking out, they helped him fill out the paperwork to get his medical expenses covered by charity. We're talking about $5,000 for 2 hours.

    I paid for his medication after his release since he was too ill to work. He was a very nice boy.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2008
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