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With Medicare for All, the vast majority of families will spend less on health care than they do now on premiums, copays and deductibles.

With Medicare for All, the vast majority of families will spend less on health care than they do now on premiums, copays and deductibles. (Photo: Elvert Barnes/flickr/cc)

We Asked a Simple Question. What We Received Was Shocking.

"$10,000 for 4 hours in emergency room, food poisoning. Didn’t even stay the night!"

Melinda St. Louis

We asked a simple question to our Twitter followers: “What's the most outrageous health care bill you've ever received?”

We hit a nerve. 

Nearly 200 responses poured in. People told of being billed obscene amounts for everything from emergency room visits and urgent care treatment to chemotherapy. One person reported going bankrupt from a medical incident. Others included screen shots of their medical bills.

“$26,000 for a colonoscopy.”

“$10,000 for a kidney stone.”

 “$70,000 for a 24 hr. heart thing.”

 “In America? Every. Single. One.”

And there was this: “I don’t get healthcare bills. I live in Canada.”

The responses underscored what polls show: People throughout the country support Medicare for All. They want a system that provides medical care when people need it. They understand that it’s not right for people to go bankrupt because they get sick, or for people to avoid going to the doctor when they need help because they too afraid of how much a visit will cost.

“$1200 for a shot of the sedative Propofol for the 15 minutes my colonoscopy lasted. Propofol intravenous emulsion is available for about $27 for 100 ml.”

“1200 for a blood test for allergies, after I was told it was covered by my insurance.”

“$10,000 for 4 hours in emergency room, food poisoning. Didn’t even stay the night!”

Yet if you read the news, you would think that Medicare for All is a pipedream, something that couldn’t possibly be instituted – even though every other comparably wealthy country provides guaranteed health care. Who is spreading these lies? The for-profit insurance industry and the people and institutions that profit now from the broken health care system, that’s who. 

Contrary to their claims, Medicare for All will cost no more than our current system, and may well reduce spending, while improving the scope of coverage for everyone, including those currently receiving Medicare, covering 30 million uninsured, creating full choice of doctor, and eliminating co-pays, deductibles and other fees.

“I don’t go except for check up every 7 years. Its all home remedies for me. The power of Apple Cider Vinegar!!!!”

“5k for the doc to look at my neck and give me ibuprofen after a fall. No tests. No scans.”

 “$135,000 for a broken ankle”

With Medicare for All, the vast majority of families will spend less on health care than they do now on premiums, copays and deductibles. 

“$986,000 for surgeries which resulted from the original surgeon nicking my intestine during a surgery.”

“My $34,000 appendectomy.”

The United States spends far more than other rich countries that cover everyone. In 2016, the U.S. spent 17.8% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on health care, while the average spending level among all high-income countries was 11.5 percent of GDP. In fact, on a per capita basis, U.S. public spending on health care – Medicare, Medicaid, etc. – is higher than what nearly every other wealthy country pays for its entire universal health care system. 

“I don’t get healthcare bills. I live in Canada.”

“ALL OF THEM! The rest of the INDUSTRIALIZED world laughs at us that as Americans we have to pay to be healthy. The first word in "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" is LIFE. #MedicareForAll

Medicare for All would save money by reducing the incidence of preventable diseases and allowing earlier treatment. And it would eliminate huge amounts of administrative waste and expense in the current system. U.S. administrative costs are more than double the average in other rich countries. Between a quarter and a third of U.S. health care dollars are spent on administrative functions. Through simplified administration under Medicare for All, we could save more than $500 billion a year.

On Wednesday night, the Bethlehem, Pa., City Council unanimously passed a resolution in support of Medicare for All. Bethlehem, with a population of more than 75,000, was the site of a town hall in April hosted by Fox News at which the audience cheered when asked who liked the idea of replacing private insurance with a government-sponsored plan. 

The Bethlehem resolution follows resolutions in support of Medicare for All that passed in Los Angeles and Goleta, Calif. earlier this week. Other major cities that have endorsed Medicare for All include St. Petersburg and Tampa, Fla.; Detroit; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Seattle and Durham, N.C. 

If everyone in the country who has received a shocking bill for health care were to rise up, we would get Medicare for All. The good news is, the movement is growing and you can join it. Let’s make it happen now, so no one else has to tweet this: 

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

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