Bernie Sanders asks Americans to share 'absurd' medical bills
TORONTO -- Sen. Bernie Sanders has sparked an online discussion about the U.S. health-care system and medical bills, after asking Americans to share the "most absurd" medical bill they’ve ever received.
Sanders, who is running to become the Democratic presidential candidate, posted the request on his Twitter account. He's since received more than 12,000 responses. Here’s a look at a few of them:
What’s the most absurd medical bill you have ever received?— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) September 15, 2019
$12,000 for less than 1 hour in the ER. Lower back strain. The doc touched my back for all of 3 seconds, wrote me a prescription for lidocaine patches and steroids and said, "have nice day"— JE Cooper (@je_cooper) September 15, 2019
$11K for late night ER visit due to unknown shrimp allergy (Chinese food), epi shot, 2 hours in an ER room for observation. F*n nuts! (Insurance took care of it, but that was the bill.)— Teabar.com (@MAHAMOSA) September 15, 2019
13,000 for getting told I have kidney stones— rose (@_RoseManning) September 15, 2019
I was a passenger in a limo trying to celebrate my best friend's wedding. We were hit by a drunk driver. I ended up in the hospital for a day and a half. I was unemployed at the time and had no medical insurance. The final bill was over $45,000. https://t.co/4BZwwpJFF1— Mitch Narito (@MitchNarito) September 16, 2019
Sanders is campaigning on a platform of “Medicare for all,” a universal system where health care is considered a human right for all Americans. Canada has had a universal system since 1968.
Dr. Danyaal Raza, a staff physician at Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital and co-chair of the group Canadian Doctors for Medicare, said the shocking responses show that the American system is “fundamentally broken.”
Contrary to popular belief, Americans who have private health insurance are still often saddled with large bills, depending on the nature of their coverage, Raza said.
The total cost they’re left to pay depends on a number of complex factors, including which procedures, hospitals and even doctors are covered.
“It is one of the most complicated health-care systems that has ever existed in a modern society,” Raza said.
But while Canadians have had universal health care for decades, it’s important that we don’t become complacent, Raza added.
Not many people are aware that Canada is the only high-income country with universal health care that doesn’t include a universal drug plan, he said. So when it comes to drugs, Canada has a U.S.-style system, he added.
“There is no perfect health care system in the world and no system is without its flaws,” Raza said. “I am painfully aware of our system’s flaws, just as I am aware of its strengths.”
But while there are much-needed reforms to be made to the Canadian system, it’s nowhere near the level of overhaul needed south of the border, Raza said.
“It’s not even different ball parks, it’s completely different sports, that’s how far behind the U.S. is,” he said.
“We should be proud of the fact that when you see a doctor and when you go to the hospital (in Canada), you’ll pay for parking and you’ll pay for a private room.”