Last month, I suddenly came down with sharp stomach pains. Nine hours later I was being rolled into an operating room to have my appendix removed. Overall, it was an uneventful procedure – I only spent one night in the hospital, missed a week of work, and am left with three little scars on my abdomen. Appendectomies (surgical removal of the appendix) are very common – in fact, appendicitis is the most common cause for acute stomach pain in the U.S. – about 7% of people in the U.S. will get appendicitis in their lifetime. So appendectomies, especially for emergency rooms, are routine procedures.
But the cost of this fairly common and routine procedure: over $20,000. I have good health insurance so my insurance company negotiated a lower rate and paid the hospital. I paid less than $100.
Given the relentless attempts to repeal the ACA and take insurance coverage away from 23 million people, I couldn’t help but think about what I would have done without insurance. I didn’t plan to get appendicitis and there is nothing I could have done to prevent it, it just came. But I cannot afford to pay $20,000 – for anything. Could you?
The ACA has made great strides in extending insurance coverage to more people and making sure that coverage actually meets people’s needs. But without it, millions of people will face bills that they can’t afford – meaning they will either face medical debt that can ruin their future or go without the care they need.
This all begs the question, why in the world are some Members of Congress and the Trump administration trying so hard to repeal it? How are they okay with the fact that even one person will lose insurance? That person could have been me, and it could be your child, your parent, your spouse, your best friend.