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Pay bills? Buy a house? Choose

Abbie Collier, The Cost of Being Healthy

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Those of us who are 20-24 and single will spend 25 percent of our income on health care each year.

That’s right: a quarter of what we make. The average annual health care premium for a single person in 2015 cost $6,251, according to The Kaiser Family Trust. It is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization focused on national and global health issues. The trust founded in the early 1990’s with headquarters both on the West Coast outside San Jose, California, and on the East Coast in Washington D.C.

The average salary in 2014 of people 20-24 years old was $25,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

How can we buy a house, a car, not to mention pay off our student debt with health insurance taking such a big chunk out of our paycheck?

Single millennials aren’t the only ones suffering. While most insurance companies allow children to be on their parent’s insurance plans until they are 26, workers with families now spend almost 10 percent of their income on health care on average. For a normal family of four, that’s nearly $20,000 a year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. It is a single national organization bipartisan, founded in 1975, with headquarters in Denver, Colorado, and Washington, D.C.

With $20,000, you could place a modest down payment on a house or even pay for a lavish wedding.

I was faced with grueling medical bills recently. I suffered two serious injuries in the last two years playing college soccer. Unfortunately for me, I am an international student on my own insurance plan.  I can attest to the extreme costs of American health care, as I paid $500 to be covered for the short three-month season. Even so, I faced jaw-dropping bills that my insurance plan didn’t cover.

After my first injury in 2014, a partial medial cruciate ligament tear, I started receiving medical bills for several doctor’s visits, X-rays, and MRIs. These bills added up to thousands of dollars.  These bills were terrifying, especially being used to having very little to no medical bills in my home country of the United Kingdom. With this being said, nothing could prepare me for the following year.

In November 2015, in one of my last games of the season, I was unlucky enough to completely tear my anterior cruciate ligament. This required major surgery, as well as the typical X-rays, MRIs, follow-up appointments, and so on.
I recently received bills that totaled more than $24,000, a number that nearly made my eyes pop out of my head. My insurance plan barely makes a dent in my bills, and the schools’ insurance pays less than half.

Like many Americans, I have a huge financial problem. If I faced this injury back home in the U.K., I would have paid absolutely zero towards any aspect of the healthcare I received. Americans should consider how different life may be for many of their citizens if they didn’t have to worry about paying their medical bills. I know for a fact, my life would be a lot easier had I waited to receive care in the U.K.

View Abbie Collier’s blog The Cost of Being Healthy.

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A student news site of Columbia College
Pay bills? Buy a house? Choose