Former US Surgeon General Calls Healthcare System “Broken”

Source: Twitter

While it’s not exactly news that the US healthcare system is broken, it’s a different revelation when someone at the head of the system comes out and says if. After being stuck with a $5,000 bill for an ER visit, Dr. Jerome Adams thinks the US system is completely broken. Let’s see why.

A Recent Former Top Doctor

Dr. Adams was the top doctor in the US, holding the post of Surgeon General from 2017 to 2021. He was insulated from many of the health system’s problems during his time there.

Source: Flickr/Trump White House Archived

When he checked into the ER at the Mayo Clinic, he expected that it would be a simple procedure that wouldn’t cost him much. How much could an ER visit cost anyway?

A Massive Bill To Deal With

The visit saw Dr. Adams get a few labs done and a couple of IV bags to go with them. Unfortunately, while these seem like minor procedures, the cost was massive.

Source: Flickr/urbanbohemian

When Dr. Adams saw the $5,000 bill for the procedures, he was in disbelief. He took to Twitter/X to post about his situation, which went viral on social media.

A Bill Attached to Hiking Dizziness

Business Insider spoke to Dr. Adams about his visit to the ER in Scottsdale, Arizona. He went to the ER after he had started feeling dizzy during a hiking trip in the area.

Source: Flickr/Take A Hike Arizona

Even though Dr. Adams knew it would be costly to go to an ER, he didn’t know exactly how costly it would be. The $5,000 bill was eye-opening.

A Draining Process to Clarify the Billing

Even though he expected a large bill, this was even larger than he could assume would happen for any ER visit. Naturally, he decided to call the hospital’s billing department to sort it out.

Source: Flickr/Got Credit

Dr. Adams noted to Business Insider that after a week of trying to sort out the issue and get an itemized report as to what was costing so much, he was mentally drained having to deal with them.

Mayo Clinic Is Silent On The Issue

Other media outlets have reached out to the clinic for a statement, but they’ve all been met with silence. While there’s nothing to say that there’s anything wrong here, it certainly seems suspicious.

Source: Flickr/Mayo Clinic

Yet, as anyone who’s ever been to an emergency room would know, it’s expensive to check in and get treatment. The US healthcare system seems to be getting worse with each passing year.

Lack Of Price Transparency Is Alarming

One of Dr. Adams’ complaints about the entire situation is how difficult it was for him to pinpoint the cost of his treatment. Patients usually don’t know what their visit will cost ahead of time.

Source: Flickr/401(K) 2012

Additionally, insurance deductibles are on the rise, and even if patients pay for health insurance, the amount they pay for their insurance to kick in is also massive. It’s a burden Americans deal with daily.

No Chance For the Average American

Dr. Adams stated that these barriers underlined why there was such a large amount of medical debt crippling individual finances throughout the country. He was experiencing this firsthand.

Source: Flickr/Stephen Downes

He further stated that if he, with his medical connections and standing, had to deal with this in his position, it’s likely that the average American stood no chance of dealing with the medical system in the US.

A Crippling Problem For The US

Medical debt is a massive issue for many Americans to deal with. Recent studies by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Peterson Foundation on Healthcare note that more than 14 million households owe at least $1,000 in medical debt.

Source: Flickr/Steve Rhodes

Additional research has hammered home how much debt there is, as medical debt is one of the most significant causes of personal bankruptcy in the US.

No Breakdown of Charges Forthcoming

Dr. Adams is still waiting for an itemized breakdown of the cost of his treatment. He has yet to receive it despite hounding the billing department at The Mayo Clinic.

Source: Flickr/Clare Black

Yet, even with the breakdown, there’s no standardization of medical costs at ERs nationwide. One hospital’s charges may vary drastically from another’s.

Adams intends to Fight The Bill

According to Dr. Adams, when he checked the bill, he was charged as a Code 5 Emergency – the most severe case. Higher codes mean the ER can charge more for the visit.

Source: Flickr/Ken Jarvis

He intends to challenge the code since his visit was only because of some soreness. Many ERs follow this same procedure, and since insurance companies cover the cost, they get away with it.

High-Deductible Health Plans Are The Norm

Health insurance is necessary in the US, but Dr. Adams is on a high-deductible plan. These plans require the patient to pay huge sums before their insurance kicks in.

Source: Flickr/trenttsd

Most employers in the US are leaning towards this type of insurance because they can pay less and shift the financial burden of healthcare to their workers rather than themselves. It defeats the purpose of employer-provided health insurance.

Some Relief From Congress

Government lawmakers know ERs and medical institutions are invested in making as much money as possible from their clients. The newly introduced No Surprises Act in 2022 seeks to help the average American.

Source: Flickr/Dusty J

Under this law, patients should not be stuck with a colossal bill simply for visiting an out-of-network doctor. But is this enough for the average American?

More Transparency in Billing Necessary

Dr. Adams contends that this law isn’t nearly far enough to ensure that Americans know what’s going on with their healthcare costs.

Source: Flickr/Tom Roeleveld

He says that many people don’t go to the ER at all because they’re too afraid of the costs of the visit. When they do go in, it’s so far gone as an emergency that it could be life-threatening.

Dealing With A Huge Problem

The medical system in the US is broken, and very little is done to help the average person. Instead, rising healthcare costs and less responsibility on employers mean that the average American is paying out of pocket for their ER visit.

Source: Flickr/josh james

This is a multi-faceted problem, but it can be dealt with if approached from the right direction. Regardless of what measures are undertaken, the first step is ensuring everyone knows how much their healthcare costs.

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Sally Reed

Written by Sally Reed

Sally, a dynamic and viral writer, has taken the literary world by storm with her exceptional storytelling prowess. With an uncanny ability to tap into the collective consciousness of her readers, she crafts narratives that resonate deeply and linger long after the last word is read.

Born with a creative spirit, Sally honed her writing skills from a young age, cultivating a unique voice that blends emotion, wit, and social insight. Her work spans a wide spectrum, from poignant short stories that tug at the heartstrings to thought-provoking essays that challenge conventional thinking.

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