Like millions of other Americans, we in the Right Care Alliance can see that our health care system is costly, wasteful, dysfunctional, and unjust. We believe that it needs radical structural change. The Right Care Alliance is committed to a long-haul fight for those reforms, but while we do that, we also can’t wait: in 2023, the RCA will campaign for immediate relief from medical debt and outrageous health care costs.
While insurance companies were swimming in revenue during the pandemic and hospital systems were rescued with relief funds, patients and families across the country have been suffering and continue to suffer. An estimated 3 million Americans owe more than $10,000 in medical debt. Tens of millions of Americans avoid getting needed care because they’re afraid of the bills they’ll face.
In this moment, the unholy alliance between insurers and hospital systems must share the relief they’ve received with patients and families who are still suffering. They can do this by canceling debts, stopping sending bills to collection agencies, ceasing to collect copayments and deductibles, and lowering their prices. The Right Care Alliance demands that hospitals take immediate steps, but we also intend to build the political momentum for the larger structural reforms Americans need.
WHY DO WE BELIEVE THE U.S. HEALTH SYSTEM NEEDS RADICAL REFORM?
In recent decades our dysfunctional system has grown into an economic behemoth, driven by the unbridled form of capitalism known as neoliberalism, in thrall to the perverse idea that market forces and profits can be applied indiscriminately to the health care sector. The result: uncontrolled, rising prices; lack of transparency about those prices; unwillingness and inability of employers and purchasers to safeguard the financial interests of their employees; the ongoing consolidation of monopolies amongst insurance companies, hospital systems, pharma and device companies; and a decades-long frenzy of wealth transfer, rising inequality, and winner-take-all economics.
The epidemic of higher copays and deductibles is the major cause of a crushing burden of high prices and medical debt. As a result it imposes monopolistic prices multiplied by inadequate insurance coverage which together are imposing financial burdens that are taking individuals, families, and communities to the breaking point. Nearly everyone is being hit. More and more of the ever-shrinking middle class is joining those who’ve always been affected disproportionately: racial and ethnic minorities and the working poor. Until access to healthcare is recognized as a right, none of us can enjoy true freedom. In defense of that freedom for everyone, the Right Care Alliance supports the creation of a universal, not-for-profit, community-controlled health care system that is free at the point of care.
WHY WE’RE FIGHTING FOR IMMEDIATE RELIEF
Right Care is impossible without universal health insurance for everyone who lives in the United States, but sadly, our political leaders appear to be putting that goal years into the distant future. But patients and families are suffering now. That’s why we’re joining together as patients, providers and community members to fight against medical debt and the high costs of care. We’re ready to devote our time and energy to this work and will partner with other grassroots organizations to build campaigns for immediate relief.
These campaigns will take different shapes in different cities, but they could include:
CAMPAIGNS FOR IMMEDIATE RELIEF ARE THE STARTING POINT
FOR THE LONG-TERM FIGHT FOR RADICAL STRUCTURAL REFORM
As we build campaigns for immediate relief, we plan to do our part to nurture and strengthen the diverse coalitions of grassroots activists that are coming together in several cities. We are committed to creative actions that shine a spotlight on the issue and bring all of us together to the fight.
As we express our anger against hospitals’ pricing and billing practices, we also insist that elected officials and hospital administrators recognize that the status quo is unsustainable. Health care business practices that impose ruinous financial burdens on people simply cannot stand. Co-pays and deductibles do not promote health and well-being and should be abolished. Sky-high health care prices are a hidden tax on all Americans. They undermine insurance coverage and are the hidden driver of the high co-pays and deductibles that create a false promise of affordability. Medical debt drives families into bankruptcy and financial ruin, and we consider it illegitimate.
We call on all who agree to join us to take action to win these demands.
Please join us in the fight for medical debt relief and a radically better health system. Learn more about our campaign here.
If you’ve been harmed by outrageous medical prices or medical debt-collection practices, please share your story here.
If you are interested in resources for dealing with medical debt, view our resource clearinghouse.
If you’d like to become an activist with the Right Care Alliance, please contact us here.
And if you’d like to support our work financially, here’s where you can do that. We’d be grateful.