In a 60 Minutes interview aired on Sunday evening, Mitt Romney suggested that the uninsured have options if Obamacare is repealed. They can go to the emergency room:
Interestingly enough, I recently went to the emergency room. I don't remember what happened, but according to my friends, I fell and hit my head. I started bleeding heavily from my right eyebrow and I seemed dazed. I was unable to answer very basic questions, so my friends took me to the hospital. The fog doesn't really lift for me until after I am in the ER being treated by a nurse.
My interactions with the receptionist occurred during the foggy period and I do not remember any of our conversation. Last night, I received a bill from the hospital for the cost of my treatment, which consisted of a CT scan, seven stitches, and a tetanus shot. Without insurance, I owed $13,960.41.
I panicked until I read more of the bill and realized that the hospital did not have my insurance information. My new insurance card had not arrived by the evening of my accident, and I was apparently unable to provide enough information on my own for the hospital to process my claim. I just got off the phone with the hospital's billing department and they are now working with my insurance company on my bill. I have a friend with the same insurance who had a more serious--and expensive--visit to the ER than I several months ago. Based on what she told me, I'm expecting to pay only a fraction of the $13,000.
But this is the thing. I have insurance. I don't have to worry about paying that $13,000 back. Were I without insurance, I would be SCREWED. My colleague just pointed out to me that my bill is more than the minimum annual salary for graduate students at my school. There is no way I could afford to pay that back on what I currently earn. Fortunately, I expect to get a much better job next year that could potentially allow me to pay such a sum over time, but most people aren't that lucky.
My injury was pretty minor, compared to what sends many other people to the emergency room and my bill was over thirteen grand. How can you expect somebody who can't afford insurance to pay bills like that? How is that any kind of solution to our health care crisis?