‘Mistakenly’ High Medical Bills; Failures of For-Profit Health Care; Economists Push for Medicare for All

Public Citizen Has You Covered

Welcome to this week’s edition of “We’ve Got You Covered,” a weekly tipsheet designed to highlight key news about Medicare for All and call out the biggest health care industry lies and falsehoods about universal health care. Please send tips, feedback and questions to Mike Stankiewicz, mstankiewicz@citizen.org, (202) 588-7779.

HIGH MEDICAL BILLS CONTINUE WHILE LABS, INSURERS PROFIT

The pandemic is exacerbating the number of Americans who are facing massive out-of-pocket medical bills that they shouldn’t have to pay for.

One woman who lost both her parents to the pandemic is anticipating the medical bills for her parents’ care to be burdensome. Another woman was hit with a $10,000 medical bill that was sent to collections, before a news investigation discovered she was mischarged. This follows previous reports of coronavirus patients being hit with hospital bills ranging from hundreds of thousands of dollars to more than $1 million.

At the same time, health insurers are raising their full-year profit forecasts.

Additionally, testing laboratories have been “mistakenly” charging up to $6,946 for tests that should cost less than $100, possibly looking to profit from the $1 billion the federal government set aside for uninsured Americans to get tested.

There would be no out-of-pocket costs under Medicare for All, which also would end profiteering by insurance corporations off Americans’ health.

HEALTH CARE INDUSTRY’S CORONAVIRUS FAILURES

Ralph Nader, founder of Public Citizen, wrote in an opinion piece in Common Dreams that the for-profit health care industry’s failure during the ongoing pandemic is galvanizing unstoppable support for a single-payer system.

“What is emerging from this catastrophe is an exceptional class of millions of potential advocates,” Nader said. “Deeply personal profiles and first-person accounts of the pain and anguish they endure fill the news. They have experienced firsthand the perverse priorities of the profiteering corporate health vendors that are leaving tens of millions of innocent families uninsured, underinsured and without paid sick leave.”

Nader also noted that comparably wealthy countries provide health care to their people at half the price per capita with better outcomes and broader choice of physicians and hospitals.

Paul Constant, a writer at Civic Ventures, in an opinion piece published by Business Insider, also noted how Big Pharma is less interested in developing a coronavirus vaccine and would rather focus on more profitable ventures.

“The U.S. devoted the second half of the 20th century to a great experiment: the goal was to see if the free market could handle health care more efficiently and affordably without government intervention,” Constant said. “Coronavirus was the final exam, and now the experiment is over. The free market has failed miserably.”

REMINDER:

Economists have been saying for years that Medicare for All would lead to significant savings and reduce wasteful spending.

Twenty of the nation’s top economists have argued that Medicare for All would be “considerably less expensive” than the current health care system and would cost most Americans less.

More than 200 economists already have endorsed Medicare for All, which could “generate the biggest pay raise in a generation for American workers and help reduce income inequality.”

To speak with a Medicare for All policy expert, or if you have questions about Public Citizen’s work, please contact Mike Stankiewicz, mstankiewicz@citizen.org, (202) 588-7779.