It’s a club no one wants to join, but many Americans these days find themselves automatically eligible for the “Bill of the Month” club.
Kaiser Health News and NPR began collecting people’s health care bills for examination early this year. We have waded through roughly 500 submissions, choosing just one each month to decode and dissect. (If you’d like to submit your story or bill, you can do it here.)
But the crowdsourced investigation has given voice to numerous others on social media — health care consumers and industry players alike. With each installment, hundreds of people have weighed in.
The most recent feature about Sherry Young’s experience, “Sticker Shock Jolts Oklahoma Patient: $15,076 For Four Tiny Screws,” has so far has generated nearly 6,800 shares on Facebook, scores of tweets and lively discussions on both Reddit and LinkedIn.
Readers and listeners aren’t merely bellyaching. Discussions quickly veer toward solutions: demanding more transparency and exploring a single-payer health care system.
Among highlights from Twitter:
A reminder from Kansas City Direct Primary Care to ask for itemized receipts.
From @NPRHealth & @KHNews: it's so important to ask healthcare entities for itemized receipts! They ask listeners to share itemized healthcare receipts — which DPC patient wants to step up to share a transparent, fairly priced healthcare invoice? https://t.co/sb911L1byI pic.twitter.com/bILc0X7MbB
— KC DirectPrimaryCare (@KansasCityDPC) May 15, 2018
Michael Yoder, Conway, Ark., tweets that the jacked-up bill for screws argues for universal Medicare coverage.
— Michael Yoder (@MichaelYoder1) May 14, 2018
Dr. Kevin Neal, of Jacksonville, Fla., tweeted that Sherry Young’s bill for the screws wasn’t unique.
This has little to do with the great care that @OUMedicine provides, and everything to do with a confusing, non-transparent payment system for US healthcare. Hate to say, it happens everywhere
Sticker Shock Jolts Oklahoma Patient: $15,076 For 4 Tiny Screws https://t.co/vezwJX2s5C
— Dr. Kevin Neal (@JaxScoliosisDoc) May 14, 2018
A medical device executive who was mentioned in the story about the $15,076 surgical screws, Steve Lichtenthal, vice president of business development at Orthopaedic Implant Co., based in Reno, Nev., shared the link and received at least 8,300 views. He invited commenters and colleagues on LinkedIn to join in an offline forum. As of Thursday, two had expressed interest.
And Canadians continue to offer insider perspective from the outside. Plucked from one of many Facebook threads:
“When health is considered a for-profit commodity, this is exactly what will happen in an unregulated system.
“It’s sad, but not surprising.
“What many of us who live outside of the US wonder (I’m Canadian), is why you put up with a health-care system that treats you as a financial resource, rather than as a human being?”
— Richard Bott, Port Coquitlam, British Columbia
And on Twitter, @TrainerGloria pointed out how Sherry Young’s case illustrates the differences between health care in Canada and the U.S.
In Canada we get all medically necessary surgeries and overnight stays without being charged; poor & uninsured people don’t have to worry . We do pay to upgrade to semi or fully private room and of course we pay a fortune in income tax to support the system. That lady got screwed
— Trainer Gloria 🇨🇦 (@TrainerGloria) May 16, 2018
Kaiser Health News is a nonprofit news service covering health issues. It is an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation that is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.