The Uninsured Die at Home

In Ohio on Thursday Mitt Romney told The Columbus Dispatch’s editorial board  that “We don’t have a setting across this country where if you don’t have insurance, we just say to you, ‘Tough luck, you’re going to die when you have your heart attack.’ … We don’t have people that become ill, who die in their apartment because they don’t have insurance.” Rachael Acks, a former EMT, writes that actually, we do have people dying in their homes because they don’t have insurance. Her essay is powerful. An excerpt:

“Sometimes you get a call out to one of the little trailer parks, because people do live here even though no one really wants to, and it’s for chest pains, possible heart attack. It’s an older man in a uniform (you decide what kind) pale and sweaty and shaking, his face like dough. He’s got a crocheted afghan in a startling color combination covering his lap, and his wife (you guess she’s the one who made it, she’s got that look) wrings her hands nearby. She’s the one that called you. He’s as mad as he can manage when he can barely breathe.

“The paramedic hooks up the EKG.You don’t know how to read the bouncing lines, but even you know it’s not good. Okay, let’s go. We need to get you to the hospital.

“‘No.’”

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6 Comments / Post A Comment

josefinastrummer (#1,850)

Wow that is a really good article. I wish it wasn’t true.

I had back surgery in March. When I went for my pre-op testing, I was told my insurance wasn’t showing up, because my job had just switched insurance earlier that week. I was told if the insurance didn’t come through by that afternoon, I would have to put up $40,000 or not have the surgery. By this point, I couldn’t walk one block without having to stop and rest,I could not sleep and I really wanted to die I was in so much pain. This surgery was not optional but yet they were going to turn me away. I was already super pro-universal healthcare before but that cemented it for me. So Mitt and these folks really don’t know what they are talking about.

@josefinastrummer Yeah I can’t imagine what kind of ignorance you have to have of your own country to not realize that people do die from not being able to pay for health care. The comment too in that essay “Somebody pays: charity, the government, the hospital.” If that is true, explain to me why people are going bankrupt because they are unable to pay their medical bills. EXPLAIN IT TO ME MITT.

cherrispryte (#19)

Hey, thanks for pointing me towards the EMT’s essay, that’s really important.

sony_b (#225)

I took a bad fall (backward, down some stairs) about 3 years ago and ended up with a broken ankle and a major concussion (true story, I knew that one of the concussion questions would be “who’s the president” but I didn’t know who the president was “not Cheney?”)

I went to Alta Bates, which is a pretty nice facility in Berkeley. Once they confirmed that I was not bleeding out under my skull and gave me a sizable shot of pain meds, I ended up sitting on a gurney behind the curtains in an E.R. holding area for 3-4 hours listening to everybody else get treated around me. I heard two different older folks informed that they were going to lose parts of their feet to diabetes and they should schedule something with their docs ASAP. No insurance. They’ll be back with gangrene. There were a bunch more like that – long term problems that have gotten out of hand in there for immediate pain treatment but no option for real treatment. They eventually sent me home with a temporary cast that supported my foot the wrong way and instructions to see an orthopedic surgeon for the real thing. If I hadn’t had insurance I wouldn’t have done that, and the temp cast was falling off after 24 hours anyway.

How exactly do these people think that the things that most people actually die of are treated in the E.R.? My sister had breast cancer – could she have gone there for her chemo? I do not understand. Single payer in my lifetime, please please please.

kellyography (#250)

A year or two ago I was forced to take an ambulance against my will (I threw up on the train and apparently it is A THING to take any sick person to the last stop on the train and then call an ambulance) and I was throwing up and getting mad at the conductor because I KNOW my insurance doesn’t cover it and I’m going to be charged a shit ton of money and I was, and I am still really mad about it. Well, about that and the fact that even though I have insurance, I still had to pay a shit ton of money to ride in an ambulance for ten minutes and be ignored by doctors in an ER for SEVEN HOURS. America.

Sam B (#1,828)

That article was heartbreaking, but so are the comments from people in similar situations. But this gave me chills:

“honey if ya’ll fear death panels, they are already here, telling people that their routine surgeries and treatments are not covered because they’re ‘experimental’ and denying people life saving cancer treatments because it’s ‘not covered’.”

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