Keith in Plymouth, Indiana
Originally uploaded by walk4healthcare
A few years back he lost his job at the yoghurt factory in town. This provided health insurance but now as an owner of a three taxi cab small business, he doesn’t have health insurance. He has significant heart disease and has had six heart attacks, the first one at age 32. For this he’s gotten seven stents (a device placed in the coronary arteries that keeps them open). The first two were covered by insurance but since then he’s racked up $56,000 in bills which he has paid down to $12,000.
[Interpretative note: I know a bit about stents and I was surprised to hear he had so many. But he did tell me that they continually get blocked up and he takes Plavix—a form of ‘blood thinner’—to prevent further blockage. I didn’t ask him but perhaps he has the less-expensive, bare-metal stents as compared to the much more expensive drug-eluting stents which are designed to reduce the possibility of blockage, or restenosis. While only speculative, I would not be surprised if bare metal stents were to be preferentially used for patients without insurance. Unfortunately that might mean less cost per operation but it typically results in more operations, ending up in even greater cost.]