In an eye-opening New York Times Magazine article, the terrifying reality of indecipherable medical bills is discussed, along with what happens if you are caught off guard by a life threatening medical emergency and do not have insurance. We are introduced to Wanda Wickizer, a generally healthy 51-year-old woman who experienced a medical emergency that she thankfully recovered from, but her survival came at a cost.
“In other countries, when patients recover from a terrifying brain bleed — or, for that matter, when they battle cancer, or heal from a serious accident, or face down any other life-threatening health condition — they are allowed to spend their days focusing on getting better. Only in America do medical treatment and recovery coexist with a peculiar national dread: the struggle to figure out from the mounting pile of bills what portion of the fantastical charges you actually must pay. It is the sickness that eventually afflicts most every American.” — New York Times Magazine
Medical interventions come with a complex system of billing and coding. These bills sometimes become indecipherable when the rationale for why the charges add up the way that they do is difficult to follow. The article explores the history of the disease classification system now called the International Statistical Classification of Diseases, Injuries and Causes of Death (ICD), and how that system and its codes became the basis for our current system. This gets quite complex. Wanda Wickizer’s story is shared as a firsthand account of how much manipulated hospital bills can affect someone’s life and the extent of what may need to be done. Please share your thoughts with us at MCN on this or other blog posts.