A few years ago I injured myself, fell ill, and had to be hospitalized for a significant period. It was terrifying. The saddest thing about this? I was more concerned about the inevitable hospital bill than I was about getting better. How could I even think about relaxing and saving my strength when I had nothing to look forward to but soul-crushing debt the moment I left the hospital? As it turned out, my insurance was a lifesaver, and I was ultimately only responsible for a $350 bill, a fraction of what had been thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars.
Suffice it to say that yeah, I think the American healthcare system is pretty terrible. Those who don't have to deal with it––and live in countries where such a problem is unheard of––got the better end of the stick. They'd certainly be horrified to hear some of the awful things other Americans have gone through, and it's all thanks to Redditor retrodead7524, who asked the online community, "People who have had their life ruined by the American health care system... How?"
"Still working on getting things paid off..."
Drowning in medical debt even when I had insurance and ruing my credit for a long time. Still working on getting things paid off but still owe a good $5000+ and I now avoid going to the doctor unless it's absolutely necessary.
"In addition to that..."
I was taken to the ER via ambulance and just received a $1300 bill for the ambulance ride. I'm working on paying it but every time I think about it, it just makes me upset. I needed the ambulance ride there because I had collapsed on the floor and unable to move. It wasn't a 'want' it was a 'need' as in I could have died if I wasn't in the ambulance. It makes me even more upset knowing that in the country where I grew up, I would have only paid $20 flat fee for the entire ride to the hospital and that was that or have it waived since I don't make enough. Honestly, just dying would have been cheaper.
In addition to that, I was misdiagnosed by a doctor who refused to consider other alternatives leading to me collapsing on the floor. I also had doctors getting angry when I asked/questioned about getting a second opinion. Makes me miss the healthcare in the country where I grew up where you're encouraged to get another opinion if you have second guesses or thoughts and both doctors communicate to see if there is something they missed.
"Opiates were given to the adults..."
Pain medication. Opiates were given to the adults that were in charge of raising me. But they obviously were not properly instructed on keeping them locked up and not sharing. My dad would feed me Oxys to keep me working hard for his company. I was 12 years old. Now, over 40, I've been off opiates for 4 years and I have just enough will left to exist. That s*** will slowly suck the joy from your brain and you may never get it back. Keep your pills locked up. It's basically like leaving a loaded gun in the medicine cabinet.
"This was a procedure that should have cost..."
$9,800 for a CT scan.
Was handed a referral sheet and told "Call here to make the appointment." Did not know I should have shopped around. This was a procedure that should have cost around $200-$500. Insurance was useless at getting the cost reduced; ended up making a monthly payment. STILL got ugly phone calls from the hospital financial department, even though I paid the whole thing off before the overdue date.
"I had a stomach ulcer..."
I had a stomach ulcer at the base of my stomach and was in so much pain I couldn't hold down water. I had to go get an IV drip, just one, to help my fitness get back up enough to begin holding down water again.
The bill was $2,900 something. For an IV drip. I didn't have insurance because my job did not offer it.
"My husband and I were both sick..."
My husband and I both were sick at the same time. I had emergency surgery and within a week of that he was hospitalized for PEs and I was told he would not survive. We were in our early 30s. Thankfully I figured out that you can file bankruptcy on your own even if you are married. That way we still had one decent credit score. Lucky us our mortgage lender doesn't care about bankruptcy if you can prove it was from medical expenses. All 15k we had set back to buy a house gone and I still had to file.
Guess it didn't ruin us but we were set back to the beginning for sure.
"I know how lucky we were..."
My parents declared bankruptcy after my dad was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease. We went from my dad making upper middle class type money to having nothing. My mom went back to work but teachers don't make a fraction of what chief finacial officers make.
My dad's retirement, all their savings, our college funds, everything went to medical bills. My mom made just enough to cover the mortgage and keep the lights / phone on. We were lucky we didn't lose the house and owned the cars outright (my dad liked to tinker so they always drove used). My sisters and i all went to work as soon as we were old enough so we could pay for school lunch, help with groceries and household sunderies, and fund our own school activities.
I know how lucky we were to have managed to escape that relatively intact. My dad having a stroke managed to get him on SSDI, which meant Medicaid and Medicare kicked in. He was no longer going to be able to work for the rest of his life so that is pretty much the only thing that saved them from complete ruin.
I have a pretty good one. My wife and I were about two months into being married. Finally, she was eligible to get on my insurance and we thought we were hot stuff - just a year prior we were broke college kids. However, 2008 financial crisis saw me getting laid off and we went from watching our checking account swell to flat broke.
Anyway, a few weeks after the insurance expired (we paid for COBRA until it was just too much of an expense) she started getting horrible stomach pain. Like she would get waves of intense pain and anything she ate immediately came out.
So, we tried to solve the issue for about two weeks but nothing worked and we didn't have the 200 dollars for a non-insurance pay at a walk in clinic. There were periods where we thought she was getting better until it just came back in full force. Finally, I just had to take her to the public hospital where we were treated like absolute garbage. She was literally writhing in pain and an admin was trying to discuss how we planned on paying the bill and forced her to sign a bunch of documents while this was all happening. After a week she finally got out and it took about another month to heal fully.
She was only working part time when it happened so she had no way of making money and I was getting about 400 a week in unemployment. A good chunk of that went to the ongoing scripts she needed to keep the infection and immflamation at bay. Eventually, we just had to short sell our home and move in with my parents a state away.
I remember sitting in shock the night before we moved out just wondering how in such a short span of time we went from the world being our oyster to tucking our talls in defeat.
The thing is, so many Americans ride this razor's edge of economic collapse that when a medical emergency happens it sends people into an absolute tailspin. Could we have kept our heads just above water if that didn't happen? Probably. But all it takes is that one domino and the whole thing falls.
"Six months later..."
International college student on a full-ride scholarship here: I had 2 psychotic breaks that landed me on the psych ward. On top of that, my friend had the gills to call an ambulance instead of driving me. 6 months later, I have around $3k in debt and my credit score is ruined.
"It gutted me emotionally."
I developed Dishydrotic Eczema when I was 47. I'm 55 now. I had built my 10 yr old company in the drag racing industry from scratch. I was doing well until my skin issues put me in the hospital twice in 2017. I could not afford the insurance under the new Obamacare system. It wound up costing me my company. It gutted me emotionally.
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