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Maria Shikary

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About Author — Dr. Shikary is a graduate of the Ohio State University School of Medicine, and trained in pediatrics at UCSF in San Francisco. She specializes in holistic/integrative medicine and nutrition.

Most PlushCare articles are reviewed by M.D.s, Ph.Ds, N.P.s, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Click here to learn more and meet some of the professionals behind our blog. The PlushCare blog, or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. For more information click here.

Unpaid medical bills are the number one cause of filings for bankruptcy in America. This was a shocking statistic to me. When I think of bankruptcy, I think of people who have been financially irresponsible. I never imagined that most of these people are just trying to take care of the health of themselves or their families, a basic human right. With the passing of the Affordable Care Act, there was hope amongst doctors like myself that healthcare in America would become available to everyone and reduce the burden many of the underinsured or uninsured face. However while sitting in a recent lecture by Steven Brill, the author of America’s Bitter Pill, at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, I felt depressed with the state of health care in America. Costs keep going up and according to Steven Brill will continue in that direction. The Affordable Care Act has increased the number of insured people in the country, but Steven Brill’s question is, what has it really done to curb the rising costs of healthcare? Even if people have insurance, with costs rising and profiteering of the major players in the system unabated, what real difference will it make for the millions of people struggling with health care bills?

A recent study done by Nerdwallet estimates that each year 56 million people struggle with such predicaments and 1.7 million of those people will eventually file for bankruptcy, a shocking and humbling statistic. In the United States, health care spending averages 16-18% of GDP vs. 9-10 % of GDP in other developed countries. This cost is directly off set to consumers who end up with the burden of high medical bills and a resultant 60% of bankruptcies.

If we are ever going to understand the system we have created, we need more transparency and we need to ask for it. We need to ask hard questions and demand answers from those who are making an unimaginable amount of profits from the system including hospitals, medical device makers and drug companies. Thus far, Washington has not been able to address these issues, partially because of the influence of money in politics. It’s up to us to demand the answers to these questions. Here at PlushCare, we are committed to transparency. We want to live in a world where medical care comes with affordable, fixed costs, that are known to patients before they get care. We are fighting against naysayers and delivering transparency in healthcare to disrupt the system; join us in the fight.