Thursday, June 18, 2009

Why We Need Universal Healthcare: J's Story

Last week, when I asked for your mojo, one of the intended recipients was J, the 21 year-old-daughter of LadyKay's friend, D.

Below is an email that I received from LadyKay this morning. Please help her to tell J's story.

I've never sent out something like this before, but I feel that I must. A dear friend's daughter died a few days ago. When I returned home from the funeral I was unable to focus on any of the things that I needed to do until I put down these words. I believe J's story should be told. Please share it with anyone that you will.

- LadyKay

I went to a funeral today. A funeral for a beautiful, vivacious 21 year old young woman. A funeral that shouldn’t have happened.

J had gallstones. Gallstones. Simple to fix, right? A fairly minor surgical procedure these days. In and out in just a few hours. Right? What could be the problem?

Even simple medical concerns can turn disastrous for those without health insurance. Over 45 million people in the United States are uninsured. Young adults transitioning from their parents care to independence often fall in this category. Most health insurance is tied to employment and joblessness on the rise.... That, however, is not what this story is about.

J was employed. She had health insurance. So, as her gallstone problem developed she sought treatment and surgery was recommended. However, what she didn’t have was $5000. This is what was required to be paid upfront to cover her deductible and co-pay before she could have surgery. J tried several hospitals, trying to work out a payment plan, but none was willing to work with her. As her pain increased she ended up in the emergency room on several occasions, only to be sent home with nothing but pain medication.

As the months went by J grew sicker and sicker and working became more difficult. Finally, she lost the job that she loved and the insurance that she so desperately needed, because she missed work too often. One evening a few weeks ago, in tremendous pain, she went to the emergency room one more time. This time she was sick enough that the hospital admitted her, even with no insurance.

By morning J was in ICU, fighting for her life. She had developed pancreatitis and sepsis. Her kidneys had failed and her liver was starting to also. As her body shut down the doctors and nurses worked desperately to save J as her family and friends waited and prayed. On a ventilator and dialysis, in and out of consciousness, J fought for three weeks to cling to the life that she loved. A few days ago she lost the battle.

During the time that she was in the ICU, now unemployed, uninsured, and gravely disabled, J qualified for Medicaid; thankfully, because her hospital bill rose to over $400,000. For want of a co-pay, for want of a payment plan, for want of $5000, J’s final weeks were spent in agony to the tune of almost half a million dollars, and her war was lost. The life that was before her, her future was lost. The love she had to give, the children she will never have, the potential unmet, an entire lifetime yet unknown, all were lost.

I feel sad and I feel angry; because I went to a funeral today. A funeral that shouldn’t have happened.

J, August 4, 1987-June 13, 2009

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting this. Please, anyone and everyone, please pass this story along. If anyone wants more information on this just ask, Whozat can pass on my email. J's mother okayed giving out her real name and it is being included as the story is passing around the Internet, but Whozat decided against listing it to avoid bringing her blog up everytime someone googled the name. Thank you all.


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