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She has health insurance, but can't pay her medical bills. She's not alone.

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Photo by torbakhopper HE DEAD via Flickr Creative Commons

A few weeks ago, I asked Impatient readers to share their experiences with high-deductible health plans. I also posted the request on my personal Facebook page.

One reply was from an acquaintance: Like more and more Americans, Celisa Flores, 34, recently obtained a high-deductible health plan through her employer. The plan, through Anthem Blue Cross, covered her and her son, and she thought it carried a $5,000 deductible.

At the time, the deductible "didn’t seem like a huge deal to me, because we never go to the doctor," says Flores, of Costa Mesa.

Even after her car was totaled in a hit-and-run in July 2014, she avoided going to the doctor. Flores visited a chiropractor for several months, until the pain drove her to seek more care.

That's when her financial nightmare began.


Physician-assisted suicide: Daughter says it would have stolen mom's 'best' week

Courtesy of Teressa Syta

Jeanne Nau with her husband, Jim.

KPCC's health team  is providing ongoing coverage of the debate over physician-assisted suicide, now that the state legislature is considering SB 128, which would legalize the practice in California. As part of our coverage, Impatient is featuring people's stories about how they or a loved one dealt with an end-of-life situation. 

Today I'm sharing the story of Teressa Syta of Los Angeles, who reached out to share why she's grateful the physician-assisted suicide option wasn't available when her mother was dying.

'The best week'

In 2003, Syta says her mother, Jeanne Nau, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and given three months to live. Nau was initially determined to fight the disease, Syta recalls.

But soon, despair set in.

"She had all the symptoms of a person who was quite depressed," Syta says, adding that her mother had a hard time getting out of bed in the morning, didn't want to shower and didn't want to see anyone.


Health Highlights: Taxes, medical shopping, drinking less and a vaping fight

Kirti Poddar via Flickr Creative Commons

The strategy of helping people moderate their drinking is gaining traction.

You're definitely going to need affordable health insurance if you're indulging in these vices. Get all of the details in our best consumer-focused health stories of the week.

Affordable Care Act makes this tax season painful for many

The deadline to file 2014 taxes is right around the corner. Will you owe money because of the federal health care law?

Michelle Andrews of Kaiser Health News writes that 52 percent of people who enrolled in subsidized health insurance plans had to repay part of their subsidies (due to jumps in income). H&R Block analyzed the first six weeks of returns filed through the company, and found the average repayment was $530, she reports.

Andrews has this message for taxpayers:

"If your income or family status changes, go back to the insurance marketplace now — and as necessary throughout the year — to make adjustments so you can minimize repayment issues when 2015 taxes are due."


Widow backs physician-assisted suicide: Wife 'needed that right'

Courtesy of Deborah Reuter-Zsarko

Deborah Reuter-Zsarko, left, says her wife, Michelle Ann Reuter-Zsarko, needed the right to decide when to die. Michelle died March 1, 2015.

Earlier this week, I asked people to share their experiences with end-of-life choices. The post was part of our ongoing coverage of SB 128, which would legalize physician-assisted suicide in California.

We've received a lot of feedback on the legislation on KPCC's Facebook page. (You can click on "comments" to read the online discussion.)

Facebook post

Many people expressed their support, and described seeing a loved one die, slowly and painfully.

"I support this in memory of my mom, who endured unimaginably terrible terminal suffering from a Glioblastoma," Jennifer Harris writes. "Until you or a family member is there, you don't get it."

A few expressed concerns with the bill. "This is not our decision to say if you're ready to die or not," writes Yvette Galvan. "The only one who says it's your time is the Lord."


More people are shopping around for health care than you might think

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Keith Ramsey/Flickr (Creative Commons-licensed)

Conventional wisdom says that most people don't shop around for health care. It's generally accepted that if people do shop for care, it's a frustrating experience.

So I was surprised to read a study, released last week by the nonprofit organization Public Agenda, saying that 56 percent of Americans have tried to find out how much they would have to pay out of pocket, or how much their insurer would pay, before getting care.

That finding elicited a similar response from one of the report's authors.

"We were surprised to find that so many people had at least tried to do it," says David Schleifer, senior research associate at Public Agenda. He added, "We know that it's hard for people to find that information."

Public Agenda surveyed 2,010 adults last summer for the report, called "How Much Will it Cost?" The findings paint a picture of who is currently shopping around for health care, and what it will take to convince more people to start comparing health costs.