It’s a club no one wants to join, but many Americans these days find themselves automatically eligible for the “Bill of the Month” club.
Kaiser Health News and NPR’s Shots blog began collecting readers’ “exorbitant or baffling” health care bills for examination early this year. Editors have waded through roughly 500 submissions, choosing just one each month to decode and dissect.
But the crowdsourced investigation has given voice to countless others on social media — health care consumers and industry players alike. With each installment, hundreds of readers weighed in. The most recent feature, “Sticker Shock Jolts Oklahoma Patient: $15,076 For Four Tiny Screws” (May 14), so far has generated nearly 6,800 shares on Facebook, scores of tweets and lively discussions on both Reddit and LinkedIn.
Readers aren’t merely bellyaching. Discussions quickly veer toward solutions: demanding more transparency and exploring a single-payer health care system.
Among highlights from Twitter:
— Michael Yoder, Conway, Ark.
— Dr. Susan Love, Los Angeles; breast cancer advocate, surgeon and author
— Kevin Bauman, Denver
— Gwen Moritz, Little Rock, Ark.
— Dr. Kevin Neal, Jacksonville, Fla.
— Niall Brennan, Washington, D.C.; former chief data officer at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and current president and CEO of the Health Care Cost Institute
A medical device executive who was mentioned in the story about the $15,076 surgical screws, Steve Lichtenthal, vice president of business development at Orthopaedic Implant Co., based in Reno, Nev., shared the link and received at least 8,300 views. He invited commenters and colleagues on LinkedIn to join in an offline forum. As of Thursday, two had expressed interest.
And Canadians continue to offer insider perspective from the outside. Plucked from one of many Facebook threads:
“When health is considered a for-profit commodity, this is exactly what will happen in an unregulated system.
“It’s sad, but not surprising.
“What many of us who live outside of the US wonder (I’m Canadian), is why you put up with a health-care system that treats you as a financial resource, rather than as a human being?”
— Richard Bott, Port Coquitlam, British Columbia
— Gloria Schwartz, Ottawa, Ontario