The cost of health care has also risen faster than inflation. As a result, over the last few years, families have had little choice but to accept lower wages to hold on to benefits that, in the case of a serious illness or accident, may not protect them from financial disaster. For many working people, the trade-off is simple: your money or your life. If you have a job and insurance, you may feel that you are protected. But that is false. No one is truly safe from a for-profit health care industry that preys on patients and families at the most vulnerable moments. Since insurance companies and for-profit providers also fund political campaigns, we can expect no help from politicians. The best hope we have is to ally with others in our circumstances to fight back and claim health care as a human right.
Almost everyone is affected by medical debt. The for-profit health care industry is designed to benefit a few at the expense of the rest. Debtors and non-debtors alike are forced to pay out-ofpocket for everything from basic care to life-saving operations. As patients, most of us understand instinctually that someone is making out like a bandit when we get sick. This becomes clear the minute you walk into a doctor's office or a hospital where you open your wallet to make an up-front payment, sometimes called a co-pay, before seeing a doctor. The costs can start piling up from there, even if you have insurance. If you have a serious illness or accident, it's unlikely that your insurance will cover all-or even most-of the care you need. What insurance doesn't pay, you're responsible for. Predictably, medical debt discriminates along familiar lines. According the Commonwealth Fund,