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The steep cost of delayed treatment

In yesterday’s New York Times reporter Reed Abelson profiled, among other women, Pam Leonard, a teacher in Wisconsin. Leonard delayed diagnostic testing when she felt a lump in her breast because she was worried about the cost. Sure enough when later she felt she had to do something about the persistent growth, a barrage of medical costs would put her family on the teetering edge of solvency.

On Twitter Abelson gathered stories of a similar kind.

Much of the academic and public policy critique looked at the proliferation of high deductible plans.

One woman shared a story of her bill being sent to collections while she was still undergoing treatment.

Despite increased public awareness of preventative care, high deductible plans tend to decrease utilization of all health services, according to a Health Affairs research article.

Given the human tragedies afoot, the outrage felt against the existing system seems understandable. It might not be America’s biggest problem with personal debt but it’s certainly the most deadly.

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