A user on TikTok has gone viral after calling out the American healthcare system.
In a video with over 5.2 million views as of Sunday, TikTok user Sam (@_sam_goodwin) recalls his experience with American healthcare billing.
Sam says he cut his finger late at night at a time when all local urgent care centers were closed. Knowing that this cut required prompt attention, he says he went to a hospital to receive treatment, which resulted in five stitches that would last for two weeks.
After leaving the hospital, he says he received a bill for the care. The total cost? $3,800 before insurance — and almost $1,900 after.
@_sam_goodwin i hate american healthcare #fyp #foryou #universalhealthcare #capitalism #socialism #pleasefixthis ♬ original sound – names
When it came time to remove the stitches, Sam says he booked an appointment with a local Urgent Care center affiliated with the hospital.
Upon arrival, he says he learned that he would need to get the stitches removed at the hospital where he got them. Thankfully, they told him the removal would be free.
Knowing he needed the stitches removed, Sam says he went to the hospital and told them about his experience at the Urgent Care center, noting that they told him the removal of the stitches would be free of charge. Sadly, he claims the hospital informed him that he’d have to pay to get them removed.
Sam responded by saying he would simply remove the stitches himself. To assist him, a nurse slipped him a kit that included sterile scissors and a pair of tweezers.
“That’s a little story about healthcare in America,” Sam concludes. “$1,800 will get you five stitches, and then nurses will have to go behind the backs of the hospital to get you treated.”
In response, some commenters suggested that Sam should have simply used superglue to repair the wound himself. Depending on the circumstances, this can actually be a safe way to mend smaller cuts in cases of emergency, though proper medical attention is advised.
However, as Sam notes in a follow-up video, this does not resolve the problems at the core of American healthcare billing.
@_sam_goodwin Replying to @alexfullthrottlez91 ♬ original sound – names
“I shouldn’t be stuck with…two options, in this case. The first option, super glue it myself and risk getting a gross infection into my bloodstream at home. That’s not good. I don’t like that option,” he says. “And the second option, in my case, was to go to the hospital and pay $1,900.”
Some commenters offered more advice, suggesting that Sam ask for an itemized bill. This is a bill that details all services rendered and their respective costs.
Asking for an itemized bill and disputing charges has been known to lower one’s healthcare cost. That said, Sam claimed in a comment that he asked for such a bill and disputed several costs to no avail.
While these prices may be shocking for those outside of the United States, stories like these are incredibly common in a country where the average hospital visit costs $2,200, per United Healthcare.
“In 2021, U.S. healthcare spending reached $4.3 trillion, which averages to about $12,900 per person,” reads a post from the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. “By comparison, the average cost of healthcare per person in other wealthy countries is only about half as much.”
While some may argue that these high prices get Americans better care, this isn’t actually the case.
An article by author Jacqueline Howard for CNN from earlier this year notes that “the United States spends more on healthcare than any other high-income country but still has the lowest life expectancy at birth and the highest rate of people with multiple chronic diseases,” citing a report from The Commonwealth Fund.
Furthermore, “compared with peer nations, the U.S. has the highest rates of deaths from avoidable or treatable causes and the highest maternal and infant death rates.”
Under Sam’s original video, some users claimed that the downside of the socialized healthcare systems in some comparable countries is long wait times for patients. Yet again, this claim is not backed up by data.
In fact, “patients in peer nations generally have similar or shorter wait times than patients in the United States for a variety of services,” writes author Thomas Waldrop for the Center for American Progress.
On TikTok, users shared their stresses of living under the American healthcare system.
“Every time I get hurt I think about possible healthcare bills,” wrote a commenter. “That’s the first thing that comes to mind.”
“This is why I waited to go to the hospital with severe stomach pain for 5 days because I was so afraid of what the bill would be,” recalled a second. “It ended up being appendicitis and if I had waited any longer, it could’ve ruptured and I could’ve possibly died. I have no insurance, and even after Financial assistance, it still ended up costing $5000 for the surgery to removed the appendix.”
“I’m paying almost 5 grand after insurance for having a small bump on my behind removed in March,” claimed a third. “For a comparison… My horse had a larger bump removed for 120 bucks… And a 30 dollar vet visit.”
We’ve reached out to Sam via TikTok comment.