An elderly couple has been found dead in their home in the United States in an apparent murder-suicide – and the reason behind their deaths is truly heartbreaking.
The couple, aged in their late 70s, were struggling to pay their medical bills and couldn’t see another way forward.
Several notes left at the scene cited the man’s concerns about his wife’s “severe ongoing medical problems” and the fact that they “did not have sufficient resources to pay for medical care”.
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It’s horrifying to comprehend how desperate they must have felt to reach this point. But it’s not altogether difficult to understand…
In the U.S., healthcare expenses are ridiculously inflated. One review found that emergency rooms are charging up to $465 for pregnancy tests, $60 for a pair of headache tables, and almost $6000 for an ice-pack and bandage.
One baby was treated after he fell off the bed in his family’s hotel room and hit his head; though he had no discernible or lasting injuries, his parents – visiting from overseas – received a bill for $18,000.
These stories sound outrageous and make you breathe a sigh of relief that we have access to (virtually) free public healthcare in Australia.
But we do have an increasing number of these scary stories involving the escalating costs of healthcare closer to home.
Research undertaken last year found that more than 1.3 million Australians have put off seeing a doctor – because they couldn’t afford it.
I know a woman undergoing treatment for a heart condition, and despite having top level health insurance, she’s already out of pocket almost $17,000.
I also know someone who, just recently, travelled to Sydney and unexpectedly had a seizure, so her family called an ambulance. The bill arrived in the mail last week: $1200.
Fortunately, she’s a Queenslander: all permanent residents of Queensland are covered for ambulance costs across all Australian states. You just need to forward your invoice through to the Queensland Ambulance Service and your bill will be paid by them, with no out of pocket fees for you.
I guess that’s one thing we can be grateful for: the cost of accessing surgeons, specialists and other healthcare providers when we’re sick is getting more expensive, but at least we can get to the hospital for free.