Medical bills are not the primary reason for bankruptcies, While you can rack up bills that will take more then your life time to pay off, the biggest problem is the lack of income that comes with those large medical bills. You simply do not often get large medical bills without missing work and often, you are permanently off work or off work for a substantial period of time. I don't care how well you planned or if you have insurance, the lack of income usually is devastating to most all working families. Health insurance does nothing to fix that, obamacare of the ACA does nothing to fix that.
That's what Elizabeth Warren published her research on. That's why the voters sent her to Congress. Warren found that large medical bills were a major factor in bankruptcy. There were other factors, but medical factors were a big one. When some of the cancer drugs cost $100,000, and a CAT scan costs $5,000, what do you expect? People complain about taxes, but medical expenses were a bigger expense than even the highest taxes.
If you have disability insurance, which most people had in the days of benevolent corporations like Eastman Kodak or IBM, then the disability insurance would cover your expenses. If you had a good job and planned well, financial advisers used to recommend keeping enough in savings to get through a 6-month emergency. That was the free-market solution to disability. If you didn't have disability insurance, you could fall back on the government safety net.
But corporations don't routinely give disability insurance any more, and most people aren't making enough to pay for disability insurance and accumulate a 6-month cushion. This is a problem of the increasing inequality, which means that people in the middle and bottom are earning less.
And the federal government and states have cut the safety net back dramatically, starting with Ronald Reagan, and followed up by Bill Clinton.
We used to have a pragmatic mix of private and government services, which worked reasonably well. But the conservatives (Republican and Democratic) have destroyed the government safety net.
Obamacare was based on Romneycare and the Heritage Foundation proposals, with the "moderate" Democrats' foolishly believing that if they gave the Republicans everything they demanded, in a spirit of "post-partisanship," the Republicans would cooperate.
Liberals, like Robert Kuttner, opposed the Romneycare model, for the very reason this Bloomberg article describes. It's a basic principle of health insurance, well-known to anybody who understands insurance, that private insurance offers you a tradeoff between lower premiums and higher copays, or vice versa. These bronze plans are terrible policies, and the platinum plans are still pretty bad.
Progressives supported a Canadian-style single-payer system. Canadians pay their premiums through taxes, and they pay less than the bronze plans, for better coverage than the platinum plans. Here, the cost of running health care through the private insurance system eats up about half of your health care dollar.
But even the liberals agree that Obamacare is better than what we had before. I went to a talk by an insurance expert who worked for a union, and he told us that (though single payer would have been better), under Obamacare the maximum payout in premiums plus copayments will be $8,500 a year for an individual, bronze or platinum. And for low-income people, with the vouchers, their maximum payment will be something like 15% of their income.
Since I've been reading the Wall Street Journal for 40 years, and I know some of their reporters and even some of their right-wing editorial writers, I think I know what's going on outside of the liberal bubble. The WSJ has had reporters like Lucette Lagnano, who had Hodgkin's disease as a child, writing their fact-checked stories about what actually is going on in health care.
The great thing the WSJ used to do was take a story like this and check out the facts. Unfortunately, since Murdoch, they haven't done that any more. But here's the real background of that Sundby story, which I found with a quick Google search. Actually, UnitedHealth had announced it was getting out of the California market long before Obamacare.
A closer look at the WSJ's newest Obamacare horror story
By Michael Hiltzik
November 6, 2013, 6:05 a.m.
As for Sundby, the idea that in the pre-Obamacare era, once UnitedHealth bailed out on her—as it surely intended to do eventually—she’d be able to find any insurer willing to cover her cancer treatment without restrictions, allow her to choose her own doctors and therapies without limit, and cap her personal financial exposure at any but a stratospheric level is, to put it bluntly, ludicrous. She may or may not know that, but the editors of the Wall Street Journal certainly do, and for them to put her story out as if her insurance problems would disappear if only the Affordable Care Act ceased to exist is nothing short of malpractice