medical bills

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.

For years now some members of the legislature have been pushing to create a way to help firefighters battling cancer. Studies show they are more likely to be diagnosed with the disease, because of their line of work. This year the effort has overwhelming support in the Senate but hasn’t been heard in a house committee yet.

One point drew clear agreement Tuesday during a House subcommittee hearing: When it comes to the problem of surprise medical bills, the solution must protect patients — not demand that they be great negotiators.

Last October, Esteban Serrano wrenched his knee badly during his weekly soccer game with friends.

Serrano, a software engineer, grew up playing soccer in Quito, Ecuador, and he has kept up the sport since moving to the United States two decades ago.

He hobbled off the field and iced his knee. But the pain was so severe that he made an appointment with Rothman Orthopaedic Institute, a network of orthopedists practicing in Greater Philadelphia, New Jersey and New York.

Compassion for a hungry stray kitten led to a nip on the finger — and also took a bite out of Jeannette Parker's wallet.

In a rural area just outside Florida's Everglades National Park, Parker spotted the cat wandering along the road. It looked skinny and sick, and when Parker, a wildlife biologist, offered up some tuna she had in her car, the cat bit her finger.

"It broke my skin with his teeth," she recalls.

Surrounded by patients who told horror stories of being stuck with hefty bills, President Trump recently waded into a widespread health care problem for which almost all people — even those with insurance — are at risk: surprise medical billing.

Trump's declaration that taming unexpected bills would be a top priority for his administration echoed through the halls of Congress, where a handful of Republican and Democratic lawmakers had already been studying the problem.

Matt Gleason had skipped getting a flu shot for more than a decade.

But after suffering a nasty bout of the virus last winter, he decided to get vaccinated at his Charlotte, N.C., workplace in October. "It was super easy and free," said Gleason, 39, a sales operations analyst.

That is, until Gleason fainted five minutes after getting the shot. Though he came to quickly and had a history of fainting, his colleagues called 911. And when the paramedics sat him up, he began vomiting. That symptom worried him enough to agree to go to the hospital in an ambulance.

Trump Zeroes In On Surprise Medical Bills In White House Chat With Patients, Experts

Jan 24, 2019
Julia Robinson / Kaiser Health News

President Donald Trump on Wednesday instructed administration officials to investigate how to prevent surprise medical bills, broadening his focus on drug prices to include other issues of price transparency in health care.

Flanked by patients and other guests invited to the White House to share their stories of unexpected and outrageous bills, Trump tasked his health secretary, Alex Azar, and labor secretary, Alex Acosta, with working on a solution, several attendees said.

Updated at 3:14 p.m. EST.

Joseph Daskalakis' son Oliver was born on New Year's Eve, a little over a week into the current government shutdown, and about 10 weeks before he was expected.

The prematurely born baby ended up in a specialized neonatal intensive care unit, the only one near the family's home in Lakeville, Minn., that could care for him.

NPR's health reporters steadily cover the news in health and medicine. But there are always a few breakout stories that especially resonate with readers. In 2018, our most popular health stories ranged from practical advice on personal health, to discoveries on the frontiers of medicine, to the high cost of health care today. We pored over the list of our most widely read posts to bring you these highlights: 1o stories that reflect the health issues that mattered to you over the last 12 months. If you missed these when they first came out, here's your chance to catch up.

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.

Kaiser Health News

Medical bills can push patients over the financial cliff, but a new study says this may not happen as often as previous research suggests.

After Elizabeth Moreno had back surgery in late 2015, her surgeon prescribed an opioid painkiller and a follow-up drug test that seemed routine — until the lab slapped her with a bill for $17,850.

A Houston lab had tested her urine sample for a constellation of legal and illicit drugs, many of which Moreno says she had never heard of, let alone taken.

"I was totally confused. I didn't know how I was going to pay this," said Moreno, 30, who is finishing a degree in education at Texas State University in San Marcos, and is pregnant with twins.

Several million people unlucky enough to face big medical bills not covered by their insurance would lose a valuable and versatile deduction under the House GOP tax bill. Groups representing older people and patients are trying to save it.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Medical bills can be incredibly confusing and difficult to read.

But do you have a better idea?

No, seriously, do you?

Balance Billing Among Legislative Priorities For Cabinet

Jan 21, 2016
State of Florida / State of Florida

Citrus, rape kits, credit card skimmers, synthetic drugs, life insurance, water, medical bills, racketeering and Iran.

That is the short version of the legislative priorities for Florida's three independently elected Cabinet members. While they can't sponsor or vote on bills or sign them into law, the Cabinet members hold important leadership roles in state government and each is working with lawmakers to pass legislation.

Gov't Survey: Fewer Struggle to Pay Med Bills

Dec 8, 2015
Albuminarium

The government says that for the fourth year in a row fewer Americans are struggling to pay medical bills.

Data released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that most of the progress has come among low-income people and those with government coverage.

The number of people in households that faced problems paying medical bills decreased by 12 million from the first half of 2011 through the first six months of this year.

Five Things Young Adults Should Know About Buying Health Insurance

Nov 10, 2015

Imagine what you could do with $2,000. If you’re between 18 and 34, you might travel somewhere fun. Maybe buy a big TV. But would you buy health insurance?

Nearly a quarter of U.S. adults who were insured all last year lacked adequate protection from big medical bills based on their income, according to Commonwealth Fund research.

The nonprofit foundation estimates that about 31 million people between the ages of 19 and 64 were underinsured due in part to the out-of-pocket expenses they have to pay for care. That includes deductibles, or payments a patient has to make before most coverage begins.

Nearly 20 percent of U.S. consumers — 42.9 million people — have unpaid medical debts, according to a new report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The findings suggest that many Americans are being trapped by debt because they are confused by the notices they get from hospitals and insurance companies about the cost of treatment. As a result, millions of Americans may be surprised to find they are stuck with lower credit scores, making it harder for them to borrow to buy a home or an automobile.

Publix and Disney are leading an effort in Florida to change the law on figuring medical damages in civil lawsuits, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

They want medical damages to be tied to the amount that is actually paid for treatment, not the amount that is billed. This could lead to millions of dollars in savings in settlements and jury awards, they figure.

For many years, high medical bills have been a leading cause of financial distress and bankruptcy in America. That pressure may be easing ever so slightly, according to a survey released earlier this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But 1 in 5 Americans still face hardships due to medical costs — and African-Americans continue to be the hardest hit.

Sunshine State News

In the debate over Medicaid expansion, the voices of real people are often lost. As Sunshine State News reports, Medicaid can transform lives, as the program did for one Tampa family who can’t otherwise afford the medical care needed for a 9-year-old boy with a traumatic brain injury.