March 26, 2013

Thirteen Tuesdays: $7,823,264

Almost eight million dollars.

That's the total of the 311 health care-related filed judgments, satisfied judgments, and bankruptcies from the last thirteen Tuesdays, going back to January 1, 2013.

Add that to the 24-week totals from the my tracking last year, and you have 859 families and $19,482,613 of financial pain and suffering.

As I pointed out last year, this is not even 'close-enough-for-government-work' accounting.  That level of accuracy would require me to pay attention to who the specific people are, and I don't want to get into that level of detail.  There could be duplicates here - the same amount appearing in the 'filed' section one week and the 'satisfied' section another. But even in the face of that - pretend it's 50% duplication -- it's still well over $9.7 million dollars, just in our Central New York area, in about nine months. 

In my earlier post, I pointed out that
I don't know the circumstances that landed these folks in this section of the paper. I don't have the faintest idea whether they had jobs, if they had health insurance through their employers, if their insurance company denied the claims, if they were hanging by a thread in any of the safety net programs that are available to folks in New York, or if they made a conscientious choice not to pay their bills, in which case their landing in this particular section of the paper could have been avoided.
I do know that the vast majority of the filings were from our three local hospitals, and that according to their websites, all of the facilities - St Joseph's Hospital Health Center, Crouse Hospital, and SUNY Upstate Medical University - offer some kind of financial assistance, ranging from helping get patients into insurance programs to reduced payments or payment plans.
In addition to efforts by the facilities themselves, those of us who have insurance, and our insurance companies, and many of our health care providers, contribute to indigent care programs through surcharges tacked on to certain medical bills; and all of us support safety net programs through the taxes we pay. So basically, everyone's trying, here - whether by choice or by default - to help get medical bills paid. The hope is that between private health insurance, government safety net programs, and other funding arrangements, we'll continue to have access to quality care when we need it.
And now, thirteen weeks later? Three hundred eleven more families. Almost eight million dollars more.

On March 23rd, the anniversary of the signing of the Affordable Care Act, President Obama noted that
In the wealthiest country on earth, no one should go broke just because they got sick.
Will the tide shift over the next quarter?  Stay tuned.

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