person in MRI tube
photo by National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health

“What good is health care you can’t get?” Paul John Scott and Jeremy Fugleberg write in The Grand Forks Herald. “Ask Katie Larson. She’s 30, a resident of Lake George, Minn., and the office manager at Coldwell Banker Clack & Dennis Real Estate in Park Rapids. ‘I avoid using the doctor any time I can,’ she said. ‘I think the last time I used the doctor was three years ago.’ The reason, she said, is ‘I’m terrified that it’s going to bankrupt me. So, if I can avoid going to the doctor because I don’t have a broken leg, then I won’t.’ Larson isn’t alone in her struggle with rising health care costs. … According to a report issued recently, outpatient services costs grew 7.4% in Minnesota, over three times as much as the 2.4% rise for inpatient services. Minnesotans spent 9.6% more on services in 2018, nearly a double-digit price hike for a trip to the doctor. … Numerous Minnesotans we spoke to had horror stories….. Tyler Behrns, 24, works full time in marketing and lives at home with his mother in Dodge Center, Minn. Because he is under 26, he is covered under his mother’s employer plan through Medica. In September, when a five year old shoulder injury started to cause back strain he went to his general practitioner, who referred him to a specialist. After a 15-minute consult the specialist referred him for an MRI of his shoulder and neck. … They told him he had a torn labrum, but they couldn’t do anything to fix it. He just need physical therapy. A week later the bill came. The first MRI was $1,700 and the second maxed out the $2,000 left on the family deductible. ‘So now I owe Mayo Clinic $2,000 for two MRIs,’ he says with a look of sober resignation. ‘I thought insurance would cover more of it.’ He made arrangements with the Clinic and now he pays them $200 every month. … Now he lives with his mom, as he tries to save for his own place. Student loans take 35% of his paycheck. The payment cuts into his money for food, gas, going out and savings. ‘If I had known that was going to be the case,’ he says about the deductible, ‘I definitely wouldn’t have gotten the MRI.'” Paul John Scott and Jeremy Fugleberg, In Minnesota, rising health costs hitting home,  The Grand Forks Herald.

Jeanne Pinder

Jeanne Pinder  is the founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts. She worked at The New York Times for almost 25 years as a reporter, editor and human resources executive, then volunteered for a buyout and founded...