The Price of Health by Manny Frishberg
October 26, 2011 § 1 Comment
Sometimes things happen that so shake a person’s world that nothing ever appears the same again. A few years ago, something like that happened to me — I almost died from a lack of health insurance. (and a burst appendix.) This story is far from unique to me. It is, more and more, what those of us who count ourselves among the bottom 99 percent have to deal with. Medicaid is being cut as states struggle to balance their budgets, while people facing layoffs lose not just their livelihood but the insurance they count on to pay their family’s doctor bills.
Delaying care is one reason why people of color have worse chances of a good outcome with a number of diseases (but that’s another story). I know the cost of my delay in going to see the doctor. My adventure in emergency surgery ended up costing the system close to $90,000.
Probably 95 percent of that, and the fact that I nearly died, could have been avoided if I’d gone in when I first felt ill. But I couldn’t buy health insurance at the time and I did not think I was that sick. I’m grateful to the selfless people who saved my life. But the system paid because I couldn’t.
So for me it is personal when the politicians’ plans to save money by making it even harder for people who are losing their jobs to get the only health insurance they might be able to afford,. When I hear of them making such nickel-and-dime wise/dollar bone-jarringly stupid proposals. I want to open up my window and scream.
But I don’t. I write about it instead. And as a journalist I am trained to keep my own feelings out of the story. I ask questions that other people don’t have the time or the opportunity to ask, report the answers and try, where possible, fill in the blanks with some background information for context. Then I sit back and wait for it to appear on the website – and for you to open your windows and scream.