Opinion: Maybe It’s Time For The Truth About Death And Insurance In Obits

John Doe, 35, died from lack of funds. Cancer treatments that would have saved his life were not affordable. Donations to help bury Mr. Doe are being accepted by his family.

“I’m sorry but there’s nothing we can do. While the cancer is treatable we can’t work with you. You don’t have insurance and that’s just unforgivable. Have a nice day.”

This obituary will not appear in the local paper nor did the doctor’s conversation take place but maybe they should. In Ohio alone two people a day between the ages of 25 and 64 die because they do not have health insurance.

We can’t imagine those words being said to a cancer patient but the reality is people without insurance are routinely given a death sentence. They don’t have the means to pay for the operation, drugs or hospital stay. Without the money to afford the keys to life they die.

The Dayton OS reports:

U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Chardon) said the study underscores the need for Democrats’ national health care reform proposals.

“It is incomprehensible that in the most advanced nation in the world, so many Americans are priced out of a healthy life, and in some cases are being priced out of life at all,” she said.

Col Owens, representing Ohio Consumers for Health Coverage, said the report disproves a common misconception.

“It is clear that too many Ohioans believe that because hospital emergency rooms must accept everyone, that people in Ohio don’t die for lack of health care coverage,” he said. “The problem doesn’t start in the emergency room. It starts invisibly and silently.”

without insurance often believe if they get sick enough they can go to the emergency room and be treated. There is only so much the average emergency room can do. They can’t treat cancer, they can’t give a person a heart operation. They can only treat what they can treat. From that point on a patient has to deal with the admitting department.

Some of the best doctors in the world practice in the United States. There are 47 million Americans who do not have a chance for that excellent care because they don’t have the means to pay for it.

Perhaps Dr. Sanjay Gupta says it best on his blog:

I think it’s safe to say that no one thinks our health care system works well. I haven’t thought so, almost from the moment I entered it. Simplifying a bit, for the purposes of this blog, the two issues on the table are cost and access – and probably in that order. Having sat down with President Obama, I know he believes we should build on the current system. That is, people who have health insurance they like should be able to keep the same coverage. People who can’t afford it would be eligible for subsidies to help defray the costs. I have not heard anyone from the administration talk about completely overhauling the system or having it completely run by the government.

So perhaps it is time for newspapers to print the real cause of death in the newspapers obit section. Those death notices could help really bring about change.


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