To the editor:
In September 2019, I had an emergency three-week hospital stay at NYU Langone that included major surgery. I was so ill, with a 104-degree fever caused by an infected hernia mesh, that surgery was not even possible until I’d been under treatment for more than a week.
Surgery to remove the mesh and re-section my intestine likely saved my life.
Back when I received my bill, I did a double take. I recently found that bill, which I’d saved, I guess, for its shock value. It covered the surgery, lab work, antibiotic infusions, radiology, meds, plus a room with an East River view. The hospital billed my Medicare insurer, UnitedHealthcare, a staggering $533,305.73 — more than half a million dollars.
Happily, I was billed and paid only a very small fraction of the total, $1,580 — a very small price to regain my health. I was thankful for my insurance. I was fortunate to have savings for my out-of-pocket expenses.
When I recovered from the sticker shock, I wondered about those without medical insurance or savings. Not everyone can afford even a comparatively small portion of a hospital bill not covered by insurance, let alone foot the entire bill if they have no insurance.
Nobody should have to pay a price for their health. Nobody should go into debt because they needed medical attention.
There is no doubt that the system for providing health care must change. Health care must be affordable. State Sen. Gustavo Rivera, chair of the Senate Committee on Health, is pushing for ratification of the New York Health Act, a comprehensive system of access to health insurance for all New York state residents.
For the good health of all, write, email or phone your legislator to act on the New York Health Act.