How the High Cost of Medical Care Is Affecting Americans

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New York Times/CBS News Poll:

  • A bill of over $40,000 for the 20 minutes it took a doctor to stitch a cut.
  • An ambulance ride of only 200 feet that cost $3,421.
  • A healthy, insured couple “slowly going under” because their premiums, co-pays and deductibles are now twice as high as their mortgage and food costs.

Over the past two years, the New York Times series Paying Till It Hurts has examined the high costs of ordinary medical care in the United States, exposing the reasons and chronicling the human fallout behind the nation’s extraordinary $2.9 trillion medical bill. In response, more than 10,000 readers shared individual experiences like the ones above.

But how does a collection of often heartbreaking, often startling tales reflect national experiences and attitudes? The available data did not answer all of my questions. So, using reader comments as a starting point, The Times designed a questionnaire with CBS News and conducted a national poll this month.

Here is a snapshot of the American experience with the cost of medical care.