One Accident or Illness Away from Bankruptcy

Melissa Kalensky writes in The Hill about how an accident left her facing “multiple surgeries, follow-ups with specialists and 26 months of physical therapy” and medical bills reaching nearly $250,000.”

She notes that she was lucky because she had health insurance:

In my 10 years as a nurse, I have heard from patients who struggle with medical bills. But I learned firsthand what many American’s don’t realize. Without insurance, we are all one accident or illness away from bankruptcy.

But she notes that health insurance alone sometimes isn’t enough:

Even those with private health insurance have a system that is stacked against them. Many people who have insurance coverage may choose not to use it due to high deductibles and other out of pocket costs.

Some consumers may be unaware that private health insurance companies may consider their most urgent responsibility is to their shareholders. It is in their best economic interest to make strategic choices that drive profit, not necessarily what is in a patient’s best interest.

She concludes that the road to fixing what is broken with the U.S. healthcare system “is guaranteed to be rocky, but outside of the ethical debate surrounding universal coverage, it’s a fiscally responsible choice. No one in this country should have to decide to live with debt from healthcare costs or die.”