Health care frustrations

Some estimates show proposed “Medicare for All” or other universal health care plans would cost taxpayers trillions of dollars to implement, so we are not sure this is something U.S. taxpayers can afford.

However, given the current state of the health care industry, it is of little wonder that Democratic presidential candidates are gaining ground by promoting such ideas. One example of how the current U.S. health care system is broken involves the Dec. 25 emergency room visit by Nashua resident Kathleen McLinden.

Billing statements show McLinden went to Southern New Hampshire Medical Center for an unspecified emergency on Christmas Day. The first document, dated Feb. 4, shows total charges for services at $4,485.49. There is then a line item for “Patient Pay/Adjustment,” which amounts to a credit of $3,845.84.

Application of this adjustment reduced McLinden’s bill for service to $639.65. However, McLinden then learned the hospital did not apply her health insurance to the cost, so she did not pay this bill.

A second bill, dated March 6, shows an insurance company is now paying part of the claim. The total charge shown is still $4,485.49, while the line item for insurance credits $2,437.11 toward the cost. There is also an adjustment for a credit of $786.74.

All of this created a bill of $1,261.64 for McLinden.

“Just the whole thought of it aggravates me,” McLinden said. “Someone who can’t afford, or just doesn’t have insurance, pays less.”

Suzanne Tammaro is a spokeswoman for Southern New Hampshire Medical Center. She said this happened because of a “government-mandated discount we must apply to patients without insurance.”

“While it is rare, there are times when the government-mandated discount for self-pay patients amounts to less than the insured patient,” Tammaro said.

Policymakers in Washington, D.C. need to be paying attention to the frustration Americans such as McLinden are experiencing with health care. When someone who is playing by the rules and keeping health insurance sees that she would have received a lower hospital bill without that insurance, she is understandably irritated.