Background: A few weeks ago my son was rushed by ambulance to a local emergency room, quickly determined to be Very Very Sick, and transported via specialized ambulance to the ICU of one of the best children's hospitals in the world. It took ten days full of care and meds and tests before he was able to come home. He is doing OK and back in school.
And now the bills begin to come. It took some courage to look at all the claims.
The full list of charges for the ER visit totals something over seventeen thousand dollars. We were there less than three (frenetic) hours.
The children's hospital total is approaching ninety thousand dollars and it's still in processing.
What started as some congestion and a headache developed into something life-threatening, and the skills and tests and meds to save and heal my child had a price tag over one hundred thousand dollars. I hate to think how much more it would have been if he had required surgery or long-term treatments.
We are so very lucky that my spouse's insurance covers most of this. The deductible is not painless, but it's something we can handle. And thankfully I'm salaried (and have understanding employers), so we do not have to worry about lost wages for the days I had to be away from the office.
I recognize my privilege, and realize that the situation is far different for many.
Medical expenses (and the resulting medical debt) far exceed anything a normal household budget can absorb. A single event can drain retirement accounts, cause people to lose their houses, and add tremendous stress to families already dealing with the trauma of illness and injury. The Affordable Care Act is a start, and there is much to be done so that all people and families can make it through.