People die without health care. Here is how:
I often think about a woman I cared for years ago. She had previously come to the ER several times for terrible vomiting and each time was treated with IV fluids and discharged in stable condition (ERs are only required to treat emergent conditions until stabilized). She had health insurance through her job, but as her health declined she was unable to work and lost her insurance. Hospitalized again, colon cancer was found to be blocking her bowels, and she was given instructions to see a surgeon to treat the cancer. She couldn’t afford individual insurance since she now had a pre-existing condition and she could not find a surgeon to treat her without insurance. Later her family sat at her bedside as she died unnecessarily because she was too sick to work but not yet poor enough for Medicaid or old enough for Medicare. A colonoscopy would have saved her but her insurance didn’t cover that. Before the ACA, preventive care coverage was not required and insurers could charge any amount or reject someone outright for pre-existing conditions. This could happen to you or your loved ones.
Eric Harker, M.D., Boise
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