While conservatives desperately try to repeal, spread misinformation about, or bar people’s access to Obamacare before it fully takes effect—and insurance companies keep raising costs—desperate younger Americans who are uninsured or under-insured increasingly rely on deals from social media sites like Groupon and Living Social to meet their healthcare needs. Ankita Rao from Kaiser Health News reports that “health and medical deals make up about 5 to 10 percent of the online coupon industry,” and that “while most health-related deals […] are for cosmetic procedures like Botox, providers also offer everyday medical, vision and dental services.”
According to HCP Research’s Senior Strategist/Healthcare James Doulgeris, “When you’re looking at a demographic that’s young, where some may have insurance, some may not, they’re more inclined to be episodic.” In other words, online coupon deals often attract younger and healthier consumers who need one-time medical or dental services like routine check-ups, teeth cleaning, or a flu shot. Even for those enrolled in a private insurance plan, the cost of using an online deal or a retail clinic may be less than seeing an in-network physician.”
Those who find themselves in even more desperate circumstances turn to crowd sourcing and social media. When the uninsured Aurora shooting victim, Caleb Medley—whose wife was already at the hospital giving birth to their new son when he was admitted to the intensive care unit—was hit with nearly $2 million in medical bills, friends set up a Web site and pleaded for donations on facebook (Think Progress ). NPR’s Eliza Barclay further reveals that crowd funding site GoFundMe‘s CEO Brad Samphouse said, “in 2012 alone, the site’s users have raised more than $6 million for medical causes, and Medical, Illness & Healing is the site’s most popular category, attracting 17 percent of the site’s total donations.” Sites like GoFundMe, GiveForward, and YouCaring enable users to create and share a payment-enabled donation page, and collect a percentage of the donations.
While it’s heartening that we Americans are so willing to open our hearts and wallets to people in need, it is outrageous, unacceptable, and downright STRANGE that we remain so reluctant to guarantee even the most basic healthcare to all of our citizens. While people object to raising our taxes, we continue paying obscene amounts of invisible taxes in the form of inflated healthcare premiums and services, charitable donations, unnecessary stress, and lost productivity. Our failure to keep up with other modern, wealthy democracies is accelerating our race to the bottom and increasing our likelihood of descending into third world nationhood.
On an upbeat note, Colorado’s Channel 9 News reported this week that Caleb Medley is recovering and is scheduled to return home to his wife and 6-month-old son on January 23rd.
|Elisabeth Parker is a writer, Web designer, mom, political junkie, and dilettante. Come visit her at ElisabethParker.Com, “like” her on facebook, or follow her on Twitter. For more articles by Elisabeth, click here.|