People Share What 'Universal Health Care' Would Look Like in the U.S.

Reddit users have shared their incredibly low medical bills online, envisioning what charges would look like under a universal health care plan.

In the past two days, two posts to the Subreddit "pics" have gone viral, with U.S. residents sharing their medical bills that could resemble similar charges with universal health care.

Universal health care continues to be one of the biggest debates in U.S. politics, with both politicians and citizens wading in on both sides.

Reddit user Seannj22 posted an image of his medical bill after an ER visit due to an acid reflux issue making his esophagus inflamed, showing charges of $0.00 to him.

"My visit to the ER as a veteran. This is what universal healthcare would look like," he wrote, gaining over 16,000 votes. The bill showed an original charge of $12,418.84, of which only $1,620.77 was approved by the VA CCN.

According to the user, he had waited four hours in the ER followed by another four hours having a procedure, during which he was diagnosed for his ongoing issue. The Reddit user is a veteran and said he is eligible for VA health care for the rest of his life.

Veterans signed up to the VA health care system receive free health care for issues relating to their military service. For care not related to their service, veterans may need to pay fixed copays depending on their income, disability rating and service record.

"I pay a VERY small co-pay for specialist visits and meds. Otherwise, everything is free. No monthly premium," he wrote.

"The infrastructure for universal healthcare is already established. It can be expanded for everyone and it should be. My years of service doesn't make me any more special than anyone else. Everybody deserves this as a right."

For the veteran, the fact the hospital accepted the VA approved $1,620.77 suggested the treatment was never worth the price initially given either. "So was it ever worth 12k? Absolutely not."

"My post is an illustration of how it feels not to be charged. Yes, there is a physical bill. But in practice, there is no charge to me," he wrote in a comment, addressing criticism that countries with universal health care don't actually receive any bill whatsoever. "Americans are not used to that. That's what universal healthcare would look like to us."

Just a day later, another Reddit user shared his idea of what universal health care could look like in the U.S. "What universal healthcare looks like in the United States— Massachusetts," read the post.

Massachusetts resident yaycoasttocoast shared an image of his health card, boasting office visits, specialist office visits, physical exams, emergency rooms, same-day surgery and impatient all having copays of $0.00.

Prescriptions, however, had a price of $1/$3.65—still far from what many are used to.

Despite gaining over 40,000 votes in one day, the post was met with far less open arms than the veteran's post, with accusations of misleading users over the state of health care in the U.S. Although the card and its prices show how universal health care charges would likely look, it does not show "universal health care in the United States" currently as suggested by the post.

The poster comes under MassHealth, which is not universal health care. Instead, it provides those who earn under a certain amount with free health care. "It's not universal if it's qualified by financial status," commented one user.

"MA resident here," commented another. "Insurance MA is not free or cheap for people gainfully employed. My 2022 yearly family premium is $31,645, of which my contribution is $16,718. On top of that there is a $2,000 deductible and 15 percent co-pay with an out of pocket maximum of $10,000 (which does not include prescription)."

Despite not technically being universal health care, the display of free health care under MassHealth in the post highlighted the benefits of a changed system for many.

"I'm below the poverty line due to disability and every time I see my doctor, a medical specialist, a therapist, a physical therapist, or receive technological exams including MRIs, sleep studies, 24-hour ambulatory EKGs, and so on, I pay $0.00. The same is true whenever I pick up a prescription, even if it's a controlled medication," related one user.

"I receive top-notch healthcare. It's on par with what certain European citizens receive. I went in for a minor surgical procedure. I was consulted by the anesthesiologist, received serious knock-out drugs, had cameras inserted into both ends of my flesh tube, and spent hours in a recovery ward. $0.00."

The latest big change in the U.S. health care system might not be as revolutionary as some Reddit users want, but Americans are set to find relief from "surprise" medical bills in 2022 when a ban from the Biden administration comes into place.

The consumer protection will prevent patients from receiving large charges from an out-of-network provider after receiving treatment at an emergency room. January 1, 2022 marks the start of the ban, preventing charges for out-of-network doctors or surgeons helping to treat patients in a hospital inside a patient's network.

Medical bill
Stock image of a medical bill. Getty Images