We the Patients

“Medical bills are going rampant” – Donna’s Story

“I worked all my life in different capacities, and I should not be in this situation,” said Donna, a 63-year-old retired teacher living in Syracuse, New York.

In 2006, Donna was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer and received multiple forms of cancer treatment at Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse. She was not living in Syracuse at the time, so the cost of travel, lodging, and food added onto her sky-rocketing medical costs. Currently, Donna still owes thousands of dollars for this care.

Donna began experiencing stomach pains in 2018. She went to the doctor for these pains and found eight nodules in her lungs. She went to Roswell Cancer Center in Buffalo for a second opinion to see what was occurring. They told her there was a 95% chance that it was lung cancer, and recommended surgery for one nodule, whereas the other seven only required monitoring.

Roswell Cancer Center sent Donna a bill for $60,000 for her surgery. Her insurance paid 80% of the bill, but she was surprised to see that she had to pay 20%, which was $12,000.

“Medical bills are going rampant,” said Donna. This past July, Donna received a bill in the mail totaling $6,292.80 for her current prescriptions.

“It’s a bill I didn’t even know I had to pay til it was in the thousands for my prescription drugs each month…I can’t even get half of my prescription drugs because my insurance doesn’t cover it.”

This medical debt ruined her credit score, and more recently, she’s been denied a car loan.  

“I didn’t ask for this loan [medical debt]; it’s not like I asked for a loan for an item, like a car, as one cannot help it when they are sick, so it’s an undue hardship for many people who are sick to pay co-pays for doctor visits and prescription drug costs.”

“There’s a lot of room for improvement in the healthcare system.”

Donna advocates in her community to get medical debt off credit reports in New York State. She also advocates for people to gain access to their providers and those in mental health situations.

To learn more about the campaign to end medical debt in New York, visit https://www.cssny.org/campaigns/entry/end-medical-debt.  Have a story to share about your healthcare experience? Contact us at wethepatients@cssny.org.

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