Is the health care arms race bankrupting families?


This is in reference to the $24 million planned to be spent on two new buildings at Spectrum Health and Pine Rest (“Spectrum Health and Pine Rest plan $24.2M in construction,” March 27,

The crop of new medical monuments built in the last 10 years has surely brought excitement and attention to Grand Rapids. No one gives much attention, however, to an oft-overlooked question: who is paying for all this?

Can we put down the jackhammers and giant scissors for a moment to figure out if we can pay for this progress? Spectrum Health and Pine Rest may be cutting the ribbons, but they are not funding these buildings or the technology and staff that are needed to fill them.

One group of benefactors we can thank are the 900,000-plus U.S. families that will file for bankruptcy this year due to medical bills they couldn’t pay. According to an American Journal of Medicine study, the average medically bankrupt family is middle class and 70 percent had medical insurance. Regardless, out-of-pocket medical costs averaged almost $18,000 for this group.

So, while many new buildings are going up, almost 1 million families annually are going down. Let’s delay the press releases and ribbon-cutting ceremonies until we can avoid allocating the cost burden to bankrupt families.

Jeffery Swain
Homewatch CareGivers

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