In last week’s speech by President Biden, something stood out to me that was overlooked by many pundits: the president spoke of the NEED to fix sky-high health insurance deductibles immediately. It’s not the sexiest topic, but here’s why it matters.

Many think that the only ones suffering in this health care system are those without insurance. They’re struggling big time, but know who else is? People with BAD insurance. The fact is, millions of Americans can’t use their coverage because their deductibles are so damn high.

These millions of Americans with bad plans don’t go to the doctor or get the care they need, like cancer treatments that could save their lives. Why? Because they don’t have enough money to cover their deductible: the amount you have to pay out of pocket before coverage kicks in.

Democrats are talking about providing an extra $200 billion to subsidize premiums people pay for Obamacare plans. Insurers love that idea of course. To get that money, insurers should be forced to slash or eliminate deductibles.

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High out-of-pocket costs have become an American scandal. For now, insurance companies and their shareholders are laughing all the way to the bank. Forcing us to pay through the nose means they pay far fewer of our medical bills. It’s no wonder insurers posted record profits last year.

Paying high deductibles and copays is like paying a massive bill for the right to use Netflix, and then still having to pay for each minute of each episode of “Tiger King” (or whatever the hell they’re showing these days). And oh yeah, it’s for basic health care to keep you alive.

The system is a total mess that’s bankrupting and killing millions of Americans. And the insurance companies are hoping we won’t notice. I know because I used to work for them. The bad news for them is the President Biden has taken notice. If he acts on this, it could save a lot of lives.


Wendell Potter
Chairman of the Board at To Be Fair, Inc. | + posts

To Be Fair, Inc. and Tarbell.org founder Wendell Potter is an American consumer advocate, New York Times bestselling author, consultant, and former health insurance industry executive. A critic of HMOs and of the tactics used by insurers, Potter is also an advocate for major reforms of the industry, including universal health care.