Reader's view: Illness should never be a route to povertyAmerica is the land of the free. We read about freedom, fight to preserve freedom, celebrate national freedom holidays and quote people who talk about freedom.
By: Lars White, Duluth News Tribune
America is the land of the free. We read about freedom, fight to preserve freedom, celebrate national freedom holidays and quote people who talk about freedom. We are angry at threats to the constitutional protections of our freedom. If one of us loses the freedom to borrow money and suffers a tarnished credit score because medical bill payments were deemed untimely, should we continue celebrating? (“Medical bills can wreck credit, even if paid,” March 5.)
People with medical afflictions can move us to care for each other. We pray unseen powers will intervene. We do these things because of empathy for people who suffer, and we understand insurance cannot always prevent the devastating loss of resources.
In 2014, state-based health benefit exchanges of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will begin improving the availability of insurance coverage. Affordable Care Organizations are here now, giving reminders to take and refill meds, yet fee-for-service remains the medical mainstay, despite intolerable side effects, including Health Maintenance Organizations that pad bills sent to publicly funded medical programs (“Citizens Federation shines a light on Minnesota health-care issues,” March 16.)
Complex explanations of benefits sent to individual patients reflect errors and confusion found between providers and insurers, creating uncertainty about who pays. Medical bills are sent to predatory collection agencies more rapidly than bills from any other industry, often without fully clarifying total charges or strict payment terms. About half of all collections are for medical bills.
Some problems rise to the level of Congress. The Medical Debt Responsibility Act (H.R.2086/S.1249) is a bipartisan law to erase paid-off medical debt from credit histories within 45 days. A Congress whipsawed by cross purposes might regain lost integrity upon coming together for this law. No illness should be allowed to turn priceless freedom into poverty.