The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

American Workers Can’t Afford to See a Doctor

Feb 20, 2023

American workers are having to choose between medical care and other necessities due to rising prices. A recent Gallup survey found 38% of respondents said they’d put off medical care in 2022 because of cost, compared with 26% in 2021. One out of four of those who put off care did so despite needing care for serious illnesses.

This is true at a time when many people are more likely to need medical care because they put off care during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, over fears of infection with the virus.

Even workers who have health insurance through their jobs are forced to make these kinds of difficult choices. The Commonwealth Fund found 29% of those with employer-based coverage were underinsured because of high out-of-pocket costs. As a result, many are piling up serious medical debts. One survey found 1 in 5 Californians said they had over $5,000 in medical debt. Health care social workers say they are starting to see more people wrestling with how to pay for medical care.

The situation is likely to get worse, since many hospitals reported financial losses in 2022. So health care economists predict hospital rates to rise. In addition, many people currently receiving Medicaid will soon be forced to re-apply and many are likely to lose coverage or have it delayed.

The spending bill passed by Congress in December allows states to start making Medicaid recipients re-apply for Medicaid, which states were not allowed to do during the height of the pandemic. This will result in many people losing their Medicaid coverage simply because they are unaware of the need to re-apply. Some have addresses that have changed since they first applied for Medicaid, so they won’t receive information through the mail. Others whose incomes increased will no longer be eligible for Medicaid.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says openly they expect 15 million people to lose eligibility during this re-enrollment process.

Of course, those who don’t qualify for Medicaid can always apply for coverage under the Affordable Care Act. But we know that ACA coverage comes with high out-of-pocket costs due to high deductibles and less than full coverage of the costs of treatments!

How ridiculous is it that workers in a country as wealthy as this have to choose between feeding themselves and their families, or receiving the medical care they need?! This despite the fact that the U.S. spends more per person on healthcare than any other country in the world.

It’s the result of a health care system that places profit over the well-being of the population. It needs to go!