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People who wonder what the future holds for Americans in our healthcare system don't have to look far afield. We can see what will happen by looking at our neighbors in the Third World. Unfortunately, one of the fastest growing trends is something called hospital detention. This is when patients are held prisoner after an event like a birth, until their family can come up with the fees, to "ransom" them. Another practice is the Death Trip, when patients are sent from one hospital to another, not admitted in any, until they die. This is because of lack of money.

72 million Americans are struggling with CURRENT hospital debt. Any politician, president, institution or criminally expensive and medically inadequate healthcare plan that refuses to acknowledge that Americans are being buried by debts and refuses to address the affordability problem by eliminating the 50% wasted on insurers and the billing them problem is destructive.

This is from a paper: "In and out: user fees and other unfortunate events during hospital admission and discharge"


"Sixteen-year-old Carine delivered her son, Hugo, by caesarian section at Bujumbura's biggest hospital, in April 2006, but remained in hospital detention until the end of May, for inability to pay her bills of about US$ 300. Like hundreds of debtor mothers detained for the same reason, Carine lived in the hospital corridors and scrounged for money and food from visitors until she was finally freed following public pressure."

Here in the United States, she would not be detained, however, she would probably be pressured to give her child up for adoption to an adoption broker, in return for payment of her medical bills.

"While conducting research in Venezuela in 2006, I met Teresa at her home in one of the many shantytowns in Caracas. She had moved to the capital city in her late adolescence in search of a better life for herself and her three children. Teresa had been a seamstress since the age of 14, rising before dawn and returning home after dark for wages that kept her constantly below the poverty line. In 1995, Teresa suffered a stroke and managed to reach a public hospital and obtain treatment.

Before the hospital administration would release her to return home, she was required to pay 25,000 bolívares as a colaboración (contribution) to the hospital. Because the fee was equivalent to three and a half times her monthly salary, she convinced the hospital's social worker to lower the amount to 10,000 bolívares. Teresa raised the funds among several family members to settle the fee and leave the hospital. Since 1999, a presidential decree prohibits charging user fees from patients in public hospitals in Venezuela 9, so the problem has been avoided altogether."

If Teresa lived in Massachusetts, she might have received treatment, but uninsured, she have been required to sign up for mandatory insurance. A small business owner who had had an income in the previous year might be ineligible for assistance, despite a crippling, new current health situation or the existing, new medical debt.

Read the original article by Arachu Castro (Harvard University, Department of Social Medicine)

PubMed Related Articles (some pertain to the US, expand the number to 200 to see many more)

Originally posted to Andiamo on Sun Feb 07, 2010 at 12:04 PM PST.

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