Nearly 1 in 10 adults owe a significant amount of medical debt. Research presented earlier this year by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau shows there is “$88 billion dollars in medical debt on consumer credit records.” Health seems to be a burden for most. Even though most Americans have health insurance, it seems that a common problem is for many to have medical bills that one is unable to pay for. This probes the following questions: Is the system wrong? Are we as individuals not preparing ourselves enough financially for such expenses? Or are these expenses out of most people’s reach? I might not have the answers for all those questions but what I do know is that health care doesn’t look like this all over the world.
The United States has one of the most expensive health care costs in the World. The Peter G. Peterson foundation states, “In 2020, U.S. healthcare spending reached $4.1 trillion, which averages $12,500 per person.” This has only increased as time has gone on.
Health and wellbeing are a fundamental human necessity that gets affected by many factors in our everyday life. From economy, to access, to the food we are able to consume, our knowledge, biases and understanding of diseases and health care. The fact that it’s so expensive just makes it even harder to take care of and follow up with. As a human need, many of us would argue it should be free. But as we might have some control over our health, many other factors that affect it come into play that we personally could never control.
Over the years, the idea of “shame” around health and well-being has increased. Pointing fingers at people for not eating correctly, not exercising and not actually going to the doctors. At the end of the day, many do not have the money to afford a healthy meal since the price of food is higher than going to McDonalds. Plus, others simply don’t have the time to cook or exercise due to their lifestyle and many, due to the costs of medical care, aren’t able to afford going to the doctor in the first place.
Besides all that, we all have a cultural understanding of healthcare and how we should be taking care of ourselves. Many Americans are not taught the real importance of a regular doctor's visit or an immediate trust in doctors when something feels wrong. At the end of the day, many things get in the way of our health and wellbeing. As people, we should always be aware of when and why this gets affected and we should, the same way, understand that in many cases, especially in the U.S., access to such fundamental care turns into a privilege instead.