New York legislators must protect patients like me from devastating medical debt (Your Letters)

To the editor:

I was very grateful to see an article exposing how New York hospitals treat low-income patients (“SUNY Chancellor Weighing, Upstate, High Rate of Lawsuits Over Unpaid Claims in Other New York Hospitals”). ”, May 18, 2023).

I am a cancer survivor who owes tens of thousands of dollars to the City of Roswell and Upstate for cancer treatment. My insurance paid Roswell and Upstate 80% of the bill, thousands of dollars. The rest is my responsibility, but 20% of the $60,000 cost of the first surgery in Roswell is still a lot of money.

The stress from facing these hospital bills made my health worse, and medical debt ruined my credit score. I can’t afford a decent car to go to my doctor’s appointment because my hospital bills are being collected. Before the medical bills, I had great credit.

I am eligible for financial assistance, but I am unable to receive it because I am missing the required documentation on my application. It shouldn’t be too difficult to access resources that are supposed to help patients. Especially here in New York, all hospitals are required to provide financial assistance to insolvent patients like me. If you can’t afford to pay the bill, you can’t afford to pay the bill.

Medical debt is not like taking out a mortgage or business loan. No one goes looking for it. You shouldn’t be financially ruined for the rest of your life just because you got sick. Hospitals need to stop suing patients and lawmakers to protect us from high medical bills. One big step would be passing the Fair Health Debt Reporting Act, which would remove medical debt from credit reports, and the Ounce Prevention Act, which would simplify financial assistance applications. Central New York is a hotspot for medical debt, and local representatives need to use their power to protect patients.

Donna Sekartel


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