This Reuters article from last week caught the eye of Axios contributor Steven Brill — he says it's more important than the next 10 stories you'll read about Trumpcare. It's about something that's real and happening now: Hospitals, facing increasing amounts of unpaid patent debt because deductibles are now so high, are getting more aggressive about getting paid by patients in advance.
Why it matters: Patient debt is not really about Obamacare or its possible replacement. It's about how insurance policies covering tens of millions of Americans now require so much in the way of out of pocket expenses that hospitals (and doctors and labs, too) are increasingly asking patients to pay their shares up front, or to take out bank loans arranged by the hospital to cover the charges.
The good news: At least it forces hospitals to tell patients beforehand how high their bills are going to be. And it is encouraging the most community-minded among them to work with patients in advance to apply for financial aid under the hospitals' charity care policies.
The bad news: The upfront sticker shock is causing lots of patients to defer care, which is no surprise in light of a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll reporting that 45 percent of Americans would have trouble paying a sudden $500 medical bill.