As a Brit who is entitled to free healthcare from the NHS, after reading some horror stories about the US healthcare system online, is the American healthcare system really as bad as people describe it on the internet?

As a Brit who is entitled to free healthcare from the NHS, after reading some horror stories about the US healthcare system online, is the American healthcare system really as bad as people describe it on the internet?

What do you think?

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  1. It’s good if you’re rich enough to afford good insurance. It’s okay if you’re poor enough to qualify for Medicaid and you live in a state with good Medicaid coverage. The horror stories are true for people who are too rich for Medicaid but too poor to afford good insurance.

  2. Yes, it sucks. My Healthcare coverage gets worse every year, but somehow costs more. I don’t go to the doctor unless I really have to because it’s at least $120 to see a GP for a basic visit.

    I had to have knee surgery earlier this year and even with insurance, it was still thousands of dollars out of pocket that I’ll be paying off for years.

  3. Absolutely. People can turn to bankruptcy (from which they may never recover) or even die because they don’t have the money to pay for their healthcare. After my father went on what is basically government healthcare for old people here, we couldn’t do things with him for part of the year because he couldn’t do them without his breathing medication and there were a few months every year where he had to go without it, and my mother had to go without at least one of her medications.

  4. Yes, my dad lives little under a mile from the nearest hospital. So when his lungs collapse and he had to use ambulance, he got bill $2000 for the ride.

    Our healthcate is extortion. They extort the general population by forcing unethical prices and debt onto them, and they extort medical staff by forcing unethical working conditions onto them. The only groups that benefits from this are the pharmaceutical companies and the medical insurance.

  5. 95% of USA Internet downplay US healthcare horrors. Either It them spamming a GoFundMe or how they’re sick but then lash out at their non US fans who don’t have the time to cope with them dragging out a super minor issue. I’ve had block a few who get toxic about It since the NHS is why my dad survived a brain cyst.

  6. Most people think their healthcare is great until they need it. One topical problem is spending time in the hospital that was in your network only to find out someone who treated you was out of network and not covered by your insurance. Happens all the time.

  7. Yes, and no, for the vast majority of people it is an awful route to life crushing debt if you have any serious illness, catastrophic injury or chronic condition. For the wealthiest (and folks in Congress who have outrageously good insurance paid for by the taxpayer) it is very good, and very inexpensive to the individual. Quality and availability of care in the US is almost entirely class dependent, especially at end of life, and the irony is that the wealthiest Americans often pay the least out of pocket for their care. The solution is pretty obviously, but also impossible in an environment where those adversely impacted by the for profit healtcare model are often the ones most vocally opposed to it, because of the way the two party system works here, it’s dumb, but it’s how American politics works.

  8. As a Brit who lived in the States for 12 years I’d say it depends.

    I had good insurance through work. The pre-insurance bills were ludicrous, we probably hit 100k a year for a few years when the kids were very young. This wasn’t for anything super serious, just minor complications and medical issues that need to be taken care of. Fortunately with the insurance the amount we ended up paying was more like 3k, something that was easy enough to budget for given the jobs we had.

    But since we had insurance and could afford it the actual medical care was first rate. The only NHS treatment that has come close was the medical staff at Great Ormond Street and that was still a long way behind on the non-medical side of things.

    But a couple of visits to medical facilities that handled people without good insurance made it obvious just how two tier the system is. ERs and maternity wards were clearly set up with the assumption that once someone was out the door they wouldn’t be back to see any doctors unless things get really bad.

  9. Yes.
    Some epileptic people will wear bracelets that tells others that even if they have seizures, they should not call 911 because an ambulance ride would just ruin them financially.

  10. Yes.

    People WITH insurance go *bankrupt* from medical bills in the United States. People assume that insurance makes everything okay, but that isn’t the case. Insurance can vary so drastically, cover little, still cost a lot, or not provide the help you need.

    An additional bullshit is that insurance companies can change their mind on what they will cover when it comes to prescriptions. For example, I was on a specific medication for *years*. Then. They decided they didn’t want to cover it anymore and even though my doctor found that I did best with one specific medication. . .my insurance company said “no” and my doctor decided to prescribe something else. It wasn’t as effective and now I have a permanent side effect from it. . .and I went to paying out of pocket for the original medication. (Around $300 a month for a couple of years. Though I have since then changed jobs, got different insurance, and now that isn’t the case.)

    Another problem is how they bill you. The administration is a nightmare in the medical industry.

    Let’s say you go to the hospital for an emergency. . .

    * The Hospital will bill you for time they take, the bed you took up, any medication they give you.
    * A separate lab will bill you for any bloodwork done.
    * A separate company will bill you for any x-rays that were taken if the hospital doesn’t do that on their own. (They might have radiology equipment in the building, but it might technically be with a different company.)
    * A separate bill from the doctor who saw you if they are only associated with the hospital, but technically work as their own practice.
    * A separate bill for an ambulance if you took one and the hospital uses a separate company and not their own.

    All these bills can arrive at your door at different times because of the negotiation between your insurance company and all these other companies that can be taking place.

    I once received a hospital bill almost a year after the fact and was totally caught by surprise. . .mainly because I received a bill from the doctor and a bill from the imaging company already.

  11. If you are old, poor or have a disability there are options. We have Medicare and Social Security programs that are pretty comprehensive.

    Also, some states have additional health care. California has had Medi-Cal for many years that would pick up a lot of what the National programs wouldn’t. Now California has it’s own basic coverage. Not entirely free but way more affordable than private insurance if your job doesn’t offer it.

    All the programs require you to sign up and jump through hoops though and they all have certain expenses that you wouldn’t expect.

    It’s not the *complete* horror story that it’s made out to be sometimes, not for most people anyway. There are government health care programs but they are a disorganized mess and there can be some really awful holes in the system sometimes.

    There’s also this:

    40% of all bankruptcies in the US are from medical bills. [US National Institute of Health.gov](https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1127305/)

  12. Lets put it this way. I used to pay $208 a month for my health insurance subisdized by my job. My CoPay for a Dr visit was $50. My copay for medication was a minimum of $30 PER medication. All of that only kicked in AFTER I paid my $6000 deductible, as in, I had to pay out of pocket until I hit $6000 and then I would get what amounts to discounts. I actually got sick a few years ago and had to cancel my insurance because I could no longer afford it after $4000 in bills for a Kidney infection.

    Yeah, it’s actually worse than what you read on Reddit.

  13. You ever fish for a salmon out on a boat in the ocean? You catch a fish and bring it up to the boat. From there it looks simple, net the fish with a big net, pull them aboard, and dump the fish out on the boat.

    However, once you net the fish and pull it up, the fish takes a few random flips in the net and begins to tangle everything up. Within seconds, this simple process is a tangle of netting, fish hooks, lead weight, and fishing line that is going to take an hour to untangle. That is the US healthcare system.

    20+ years ago, healthcare was simple. You got insurance through your employer, you might have paid a small monthly fee (it was common for employers to cover it), you gave a form to the doctor, the doctor turned the form into the insurance, and the insurance paid the doctor. It was simple, you got sick, the insurance paid.

    Then about 20 years ago, the fees went up a little bit and you were asked to pay a copay. It wasn’t much, maybe $5. Back then it cost me $10 to go to the ER. You got sick, you gave the doctor a few bucks, the doctor got paid from the insurance company, no problem.

    Then insurance companies started “networks” where you could only go to their doctors. Corporations didn’t want to pay for health insurance anymore so instead of the employe paying $20/month, they now pay $500/month. The insurance only covers 80% of the bill, after you pay for the first $40 of the bill…and oh by the way, the insurance won’t pay for the first $1K in bills, that is your problem. You practically need a fucking Master’s degree in Accounting with a Bachelors in Medical Coding to understand what the fuck is going on with your bill.

    Is the insurance in the US that bad? I can tell you my annual cost for healthcare for a family of 5 including copays, deductibles, and insurance premiums is about $9K/year.

    But if you don’t have insurance….congratulations, you are now in a world of unknowns and inflated bills. You might qualify for a state program, you might not. If you don’t, you will likely be stuck with thousands for an ER bill, hundreds for a regular doctor appointment if you have to pay yourself. The good thing is you have to be treated. The bad thing is you might have to go to the ER for treatment which will get you a huge bill which you either ignore until they quit trying to collect, pay, or file for bankruptcy.

    So the US medical system…Ok for some, fucked for others.

  14. The thing about American healthcare is that it’s extremely two faced. We legitimately do have some of the best physicians and doctors in the world and they are able to do near unimaginable operations and surgeries. Most doctors also genuinely have your best interest at heart (there are outliers and bad situations, but that happens everywhere in every industry). The part where it becomes two faced is in discussing access to that quality healthcare, most can’t afford to routinely see a doctor, let alone shop around different doctors until they find one they like, combined with a general fear of going to the doctor in the US due to the medical bill fallout that happens when you do and it creates a cesspool of horror stories where things got put off until the last possible minute and then they lose that ability to find a good doctor because they are stuck in emergency care with whoever happened to be there, with symptoms that are often a medical ticking time bomb.

  15. In some places, yes.

    On the whole if you have a good insurance plan you’re fine. The ER thing is basically because people go to emergency for things that aren’t emergencies. It should be expensive to waste their time.

    As an aside before people hate on me, my husband has cancer and I have multiple medical conditions. We max our family out of pocket every year by middle of February.

  16. My uncle worked in the US for a while, and had great insurance through his employer. His wife had a series of headaches over a week or so. She went to their GP who had her MRI scanned the same afternoon and started the treatment for her brain tumour the next day.

    Seems if you’ve got an insurance pan that looks after you, it’s all good.

  17. Yes and no. There are definitely plenty of [real instances](https://khn.org/news/tag/bill-of-the-month/) of people getting ridiculous bills. There are are also out-of-pocket charges for a lot of things that in other countries would be paid for by an NHS-like entity. For example, a follow-up visit with a doctor with some blood tests could easily cost well over $100, probably significantly more if it’s a specialist. I’ve also seen statistics and analyses from economists suggesting that healthcare spending overall (and on some specific treatments) is higher in the US than any other developed country. There are also plenty of cases of people filing for bankruptcy or having to hold fundraisers due to medical expenses.

    That being said, on the internet, I (and you, I’d assume) see a lot of worst-case or embellished scenarios. For example, you’ll sometimes see an image of what appears to be a bill for $10,000,000, but if you look carefully, it’s actually an inflated list of claims sent to the insurance company, rather than the actual amount of money being spent. (Medical billing is weird, especially if you’re new to the whole process.) Also, most healthcare horror stories I read about tend to involve people without insurance, so their experiences probably don’t match up with those of the ~90% of Americans with health coverage.

    So, to answer your question, yes it’s bad but the things posted online make it seem even worse than that.

  18. From the horror stories I have heard about people trying to get work done in the UK, it would seem the NHS is far from perfect too. Long waits for specialists, no room on the patient lists, and overworked doctors isn’t just for America anymore, we just add in the potential for crippling debt

  19. Not if you have a good job with good benefits. Problem is that that’s not common anymore.

    It used to be a given, but these days companies skimp out on benefits.

  20. If you call 911 and an ambulance transports you to the hospital, you could end up with a bill that’s thousands of dollars.

    I once had an ambulance drive me 6 miles to the ER and it cost nearly $4,000.

  21. If you’re middle class it’s horrible.

    if you’re rich, everything is good when you can just pay for it. if you’re poor, they will cover most of your bill, sometimes all of it. but this isn’t the case for the dental as far as I know.

  22. I am a Brit also. I have friends in the US. I have seen their GoFundMes for shit we take for granted.

    Yes, the US “Healthcare” system is as bad as it is described. I call it “Health Inc”. It’s run for profit. Nothing more.

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