Our Opinion: Medical costs are crippling the insured


Republicans obsessed with "Obamacare" should focus instead on a problem inadequately addressed by the Affordable Care Act. Democrats should join them.

According to the results of a poll conducted by The New York Times and the Kaiser Foundation and released this week, 20 percent of Americans under the age of 65 with health insurance reported difficulty paying their medical bills in the past year. The report is accompanied by heartbreaking anecdotal evidence of people losing their homes, taking second jobs, spending their savings, taking on excessive credit card debt or seeking charity as a result of punishing medical bills.

The number of Americans without health insurance has declined by roughly 15 million since 2013 thanks to passage of the ACA, but health costs continue to escalate. This is in part because the ACA, in requiring more comprehensive health insurance plans, allowed insurers to increase deductibles and co-payments as a trade-off. Insurance companies have, of course, raised them willy-nilly.

Medical costs that devastate families aren't an issue in countries with nationalized health care, but President Obama took single-payer off the table in a doomed attempt to appease Republicans. Until the day comes when the U.S. gets it right, Congress must approve stopgap measures to assure that even Americans with health insurance aren't ruined by health care costs.


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