I talked to my mom this weekend, and as usual, she brought me up to date on the goings-on of my hometown. She’s the principal at the elementary school, and last weekend, one of her teachers received some bad news. Her daughter, who is 30, married and has 3 children, found out she has liver failure and needs a transplant to live.
The problem? Her daughter doesn’t have health insurance.
In fact, a few months back, her daughter’s family lost their health insurance. At the time, the daughter was very healthy, except for the fact that she was taking some medication to treat bipolar disorder. With the health insurance gone, she stopped taking the medication. Shortly thereafter, though, she started getting sick. Because they had no insurance, she didn’t go to the doctor, and she got sicker and sicker until finally, she went to the hospital last weekend. The liver failure was a result of the drugs she had been taking previously and her heavy use of tylenol since losing her insurance, which she had been using to treat the symptoms she had been experiencing for the past several months.
While she did not have $300,000 to pay for the transplant, her parents thought they could scrape together the money by borrowing from friends. Even after they told the hospital this, the hospital refused to perform the procedure. Without health insurance, the daughter also has no way of paying for lengthy and expensive after care which would ensure the transplant is successful.
The parents are hoping that if they show up at the hospital with the money and their daughter, they can manage to convince someone to help their daughter, if by no other means than appealing to someone’s sympathies. Really, though, they don’t have much hope of that happening and have few other alternatives for their daughter, who will die without the transplant. Certainly with her illness, she has no hope of getting any other insurance at this time.
Death panels. Health care rationing. I’m tired of hearing this fear mongering when we’ve got this stuff going on in reality already. And this isn’t the sad sob story of some anonymous victim being told by a politician to arouse sympathy. This is a very true, very real story facing a family from my hometown. And I’m not telling you this to arouse sympathy, but to make it very clear that the state of health care in America is completely and totally unacceptable. When you relegate a young woman, with a husband and 3 small children, a father who has already put his first wife and one daughter in the grave, and what should be a full life ahead of her, to death just because she doesn’t have health insurance, I’m sorry, but there is something very, very wrong with our country and with our health care system.
We need better options.