Feature

Dying because of a lack of insurance

An upcoming study &ldquo;suggests that almost 45,000 Americans die prematurely each year as a consequence of not having insurance,&rsquo;&rsquo; said Nicholas Kristof in <em>The New York Times.</em>

Nicholas Kristof
The New York Times

If you still doubt the need for health-care reform, said Nicholas Kristof, consider the story of Oregon sawmill worker John Brodniak. Earlier this year, this apparently healthy 23-year-old man suddenly blacked out. Tests revealed a cavernous hemangioma—an abnormal growth of blood vessels—leaking blood into his brain. Brodniak began to collapse frequently, became forgetful and disoriented, and endured constant pain.

“Unable to work, he lost his job—and his insurance coverage.” His wife tried to add him to her policy, but was rejected because of his “pre-existing condition.’’ Now the family is destitute, and at one hospital emergency room he was told “not to come back unless he gets insurance.” Doctors say they could save his life if he could pay for an operation; if not, “pressure from the growth could lead a major blood vessel nearby to burst, killing him.”

His story, sadly, is not atypical. An upcoming study “suggests that almost 45,000 Americans die prematurely each year as a consequence of not having insurance.’’ John Brodniak may soon become one of them, and unless Congress passes health-care reform, he won’t be the last.

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