Trae Young, Medical Debt, and the Sad Reality Behind His Generosity.

He shouldn’t have had to do what he did.

Lauren Martinchek
Jan 10 · 3 min read
Photo via Trae Young on Instagram

Amidst the number of debts that Americans are burdened by in ever increasing numbers throughout the country, among the most devastating would arguably be medical debt.

According to debt.org:

“Americans spent $3.3 trillion on healthcare or about $10,348 per person. That is up 18.9% in just five years.”

In addition, the Commonwealth Fund had more devastating numbers, stating that:

41 percent of working-age Americans — or 72 million people — have medical bill problems or are paying off medical debt, up from 34 percent in 2005. If you add in the 7 million elderly adults who are also dealing with these issues, a total of 79 million Americans have medical bill or debt problems.”

Recently Trae young, a twenty one year old professional basketball player for the Atlanta Hawks, took notice of the medical debt crippling so many lives, and donated $1 million dollars to cancel the medical debt hundreds of his fellow Atlanta residents.

According to MarketWatch.com:

‘“The city of Atlanta has welcomed me with open arms,” Young said in a statement. “Giving back to this community is extremely important to me. I hope these families can find a bit of relief knowing that their bills have been taken care of as we enter the New Year.”

Through the Trae Young Foundation, Young donated the money to RIP Medical Debt, an organization that buys and forgives medical debt in the United States, according to a news release.”

While many have rightly addressed the incredible generosity of this young athlete, we must also acknowledge the more uncomfortable aspect of this as well.

He shouldn’t have had to do it in the first place.

In the richest nation on the face of the earth, Americans should not have to rely on the generosity of a twenty one year old athlete in order to be freed from the burden of medical debt. In the richest nation on the face of the earth, there should be no medical debt in the first place.

Make no mistake, the only reason medical debt exists in the United States is because of the incomparable greed of a privately run health insurance industry. This should serve as yet another reminder of how bizarre it is that American lives are entrusted in the hands of an entity motivated only by their bottom line.

Imagine, for instance, privatized fire departments. Could we even conceive of a possible scenario in which our house is on fire, and having to worry about whether or not we can pay the fire fighters to come and put it out? Imagine hundreds of houses on fire, and having to wait on Trae Young’s generous donation before the fire department would respond. Imagine privatized police departments, where police wouldn’t respond to a burglary in our home unless we paid them. Imagine owing them money afterwards.

That is what we have done with health insurance.

Under a Medicare For All system, medical debt would not be a factor for anyone seeking care of any kind. Medicare for All would make healthcare free at the point of service, eliminate copays, premiums, deductibles, and the entire concept of healthcare “networks”. With just a small increase in taxes each year, Americans would save billions if not trillions of dollars, and medical debt that would no longer be a worry. While we should all admire the selfless act that Trae Young did for his fellow Atlanta residents, it should still serve as a humble reminder of just how broken our healthcare system is, and consider how a Medicare for All system would have made it entirely unnecessary.

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