health costs

Spinal surgery made it possible for Liv Cannon to plant her first vegetable garden.

"It's a lot of bending over and lifting the wheelbarrow and putting stakes in the ground," the 26-year-old says as she surveys the tomatillos, cherry tomatoes and eggplants growing in raised beds behind her house in Austin, Texas. "And none of that I could ever do before."

For the first 24 years of her life, Cannon's activities were limited by chronic pain and muscle weakness.

Sarah Witter couldn't catch a break even though her leg had gotten several.

As she lay on a ski trail in Vermont last February, Witter, now 63, knew she hadn't suffered a regular fall because she couldn't get up. An X-ray showed she had fractured two bones in her lower left leg.

A surgeon at Rutland Regional Medical Center screwed two gleaming metal plates onto the bones to stabilize them. "I was very pleased with how things came together," the doctor wrote in his operation notes.

If you're not feeling well or have a routine health issue, do you go ahead and get it checked out or put if off because of the cost?

And, let's say you do make an appointment and go. Afterward, do you fill the prescription you received or do financial concerns stop you?

We wondered how often people deferred or skipped care because of cost, so we asked in the latest NPR-IBM Watson Health Health Poll. The survey queried more than 3,000 households nationwide in July.

Christina Arenas reviews her medical bills at home in Washington, D.C.

An Okaloosa County man is suing a North Florida hospital over what he calls unreasonable hospital bills. The case comes after North Okaloosa Medical Center charged George Washington MacNeil $41,000 for post-car crash CT scans.

At 85 years old, Alpha Edwards did not expect to be out of savings or to have $3,000 of credit card debt.

"I don't do anything that costs money," Edwards says. "I can't."

The problem started four years ago, when Edwards moved to Miami Springs, Fla., with her little brown dog. Her husband had recently died, and Edwards wanted to be closer to her daughter.

Edwards regularly sees doctors for her chronic lung disease and her pacemaker. And not long after she moved, she needed a cardiac procedure.

The Florida Hospital Association has unveiled a new site dedicated to helping consumers understand costs. The website, MissionToCare.org, pulls information from both the state and federal governments to clear up the financial picture.

Federal agencies are teaming up to improve oversight of nursing homes, a practice that now misses a third of the cases of substandard care, according to Kaiser Health News.