Paying the Bill

The other day, my friend Sheelah posted this story on Facebook:

Yesterday I made my last payment to the U of W Medical Center for tests I had three years ago! Why they make it so hard for people to make payments is beyond me. When I got my 5000.00 bill (this is with insurance) they wanted payment in full? They suggested that I could withdrawal money from my retirement plan to pay the bill. WTF?? I can totally see why people don't pay their medical bills. I would wager that if the medical system worked with people for payment plans more people would pay their bills.

The post brought a plethora of similar stories, including this one of mine:

One hospital (a long time ago in a city far away) told me they "couldn't afford to wait that long." As if they needed the $3,000 I owed or they would have to close their doors. I paid them off. It took ten years, with some hiatuses, but I paid them off.

I asked the group for permission to use their stories here, and no one said no. So here are a list of real people's real experiences with the healthcare system:

Brenna: I did the same back in 1992 over several years at $10/mo.
Elaine: I am paying NW Hospital $120.00 a month for tests 6 mos ago & still have another $1100 to go!
Donna: I had to pay $10,000 for my sons surgery that was pre-approved( hence, covered) then magically not approved after the fact. Took me a while. Four years. I walk with clean hands, though. I guess they want rapid payment, because if you are sick and die, then they don't get paid. 5k for blood work/ tests is sickening.
Diane: Had to pay off 2 of my children's births month by month because we didn't have insurance back in the day.We got each child payed off right before the next one came. It's not an easy thing to do.
Janet: Bricks cancer treatment was 180000. We owed 6 grand. More coverage has changed and his check ups have an outrageous deductable. He can't pay the whole bill each time it comes. .. as long as he has to go on he will be paying the UW a monthly payment for life.

And these are folks with the means to finally, as Donna says, "walk with clean hands."

But look at those bills! I had a couple of other e-room visits besides the one I reference above, and I paid them off too, but I taped the last bill to my bedroom wall to remind me not to call for an ambulance again. I had already paid through the nose only to have a doctor suggest massage therapy for what he diagnosed as a panic attack. If it was a real heart attack next time, I thought, it's gonna be cheaper to just stay home and die.