How Healthcare Works In The US: A Special Look

How healthcare work in the US can be a tricky subject. 

Sweden, Denmark, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, the Netherlands, and Singapore are some of the countries in the world known for having above-average healthcare systems.

The criteria for this list is comprised of how much money is spent on healthcare; it’s overall quality, how available it is, the general state of the population’s health and all the upfront costs.

So, where does the US rank in all this? Nowhere near the top, unfortunately. According to U.S. News, we are 19th out of the most well-developed countries.

That’s a bummer

According to CNBC, medical costs are the number one reason why Americans file for bankruptcy. 66.5 percent of all bankruptcies reported in the US stem from high-priced medical billing. In 2009, then-President Barack Obama, stated the cost of health care now causes a bankruptcy in America every 30 seconds.

Although many critics contest that claim, the issue of healthcare cost was placed under a magnifying glass by various publishing companies looking to address the problem like The Balance.

The issue struck even closer to home for one Boston woman who got her leg caught under a subway train, and reportedly, she told nearby commuters not to call for an ambulance. 

Eventually, the Bostonian female went to the hospital for treatment. The moral to the story, that’s how afraid some Americans are of seeing those hefty medical price tags and that,s how how healthcare works in the US.

Fun, isn’t it?

How Healthcare Works In The US
An animated screenshot of the woman trapped under the Boston train cart. (The Infographics Show)

"She made it a point to say 'you don't understand, I have terrible insurance.'"

Marleny Polanco, a nearby commuter

For an advanced nation like ours, the US healthcare system has significant flaws even though the National Health Expenditure Projections budgets 17.9 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). 

When you’re deciding what healthcare plan to choose, research:

  • Deductibles
  • Co-payments
  • Coinsurance
  • Premiums

Before finalizing your paperwork. The package you buy can either save you cash or break your bank account.

  1. Deductibles are a percentage you pay before your insurance kicks in and pays. 
  2. Co-payment is a fee you must pay at every medical visit under your insurance. 
  3. Coinsurance is a percentage of the costs you pay.
  4. Premiums are what you pay even if you never file a medical claim. 

Choose wisely. 

So, what if you have zero insurance to take care of your physical, emotional, and mental needs? 

Well, due to the Emergency Medical Treatment Act of 1986, a hospital can’t turn you away if you in dire need of medical attention. Plus, there is the hypocrite oath where medical professionals swear to give the best quality care within their power. However, a bill will be generated, and if you can’t pay it, the possibility of the charges getting sent to collections is high. 

Your wages could get garnished, your credit score ruined, your tax refund withheld, or your possessions seized to repay the outstanding debt. That’s a realistic take on how healthcare works in the US. 

In 2018, CNBC reported that only 39 percent of Americans have enough savings to cover a $1000 emergency.
Experts recommend downsizing your lifestyle in the event a medical condition presents itself to avoid personal debt from spinning out of control. Like the woman trapped under the Boston train cart, 1 out of 10 Americans delays seeking medical attention due to the rising cost of healthcare.

Although, waiting can make a medical condition way, way worse.

Other reasons why healthcare costs so much:

  • Administrative costs
  • Drug Costs
  • Possible Doctor’s Lawsuits
  • Other Medical Staff Wages
  • New Technologies Used
  • Diverse Cost

In other words, hospitals charging you whatever they want too. 

Next time you see your medical bill, look for charges like rubber gloves the staff members use, alcohol swabs, and at times, the number of tissues used. This is known as the “chargemaster.” A summary of charges or services hospitals uses to help increase their revenue. 

After all, they are a business.

Do you want to see more on how healthcare works in the US? Click on the animated video from The Infographics Show below.

Tim Kirkpatrick

Tim entered the Navy in 2007 as a Hospital Corpsman and deployed to Sangin, Afghanistan with 3rd Battalion 5th Marines in the fall of 2010. Currently, Tim holds two film degrees, including filmmaking and screenwriting, and has written over 1k+ articles ranging in topics from medical, entertainment, fitness, history, and humor.

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