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Pay or Die

An old friend came over today.

Hadn’t seen him in a couple of years.

He’s a self-employed contractor.

He’s uninsured.

Two weeks ago, he was driving home from a job.

He felt a severe pain in the back of his head.

His right arm was going numb.

His chest was getting tight.

He drove to his family doctor.

The doctor called the ambulance to take him to a hospital 35 miles away.

He said no, he couldn’t afford the ambulance ride.

He got someone to drive him.

He was admitted for one day.

They did a catheterization.

Cost — $18,000.

Doctor tells him that he has an aneurysm on his aorta.

Needs an operation.

He asked the doctor — how much?

Doctor says $180,000.

Can’t afford it.

The doctor sent him home with a warning — don’t lift anything heavy.

He drives home.

He has worked all his life.

He refuses to take handouts.

He’s going to pay the doctor for the catheterization at about $200 a month.

He’s 63 years old.

He figures if he can live two more years, Medicare will kick in and he’ll get the operation.

If not, he says he’ll die knowing that the system is corrupt to the core.

He says that it’s so corrupt, there is nothing you can do to change it.

You can’t go through a month here in West Virginia without running into someone holding a raffle, or a yard sale, or a party held to raise money for someone who is sick without insurance.

My buddy came over to do some work on our place.

My wife and I were talking to him on the porch.

I asked him how he was feeling and he told me the story.

When he told us that he couldn’t afford the procedure that would save his life, and he was resigned to it, my wife excused herself, stood up, and went inside.

She came back and apologized.

I just stared at the floor.

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