Friday, July 17, 2009

Rebecca in Greensburg, Pennsylvania

Rebecca in Greensburg, Pennsylvania
Originally uploaded by walk4healthcare

“You can reach out for help, but if you have no health insurance you're nobody.” That's how Rebecca concluded the story she told me about the death of her boyfriend.

It's a complicated story but basically he 24 year-old and on in a Methadone rehab program. He was doing well in rehab when his treatment was about ½ done, his insurance ran out. Because of this, “The rehab facility, kicked him out,” Rebecca told me. She explained how, with withdrawal symptoms kicking in, he arrived home very sick. Two days later, near-comatose he was taken to the hospital where he was admitted to the ICU with liver failure but, according to Rebecca, they, “really didn't do anything.” At the time of his death, she said, with incredulity, that the staff was joking in front of her, laughing even.

The trauma continued, even after his death. She described how the coroner came in and started accusing people. “Then a doctor arrived, and asked if ‘the decedent had insurance.’”

Rebecca shook her head. “ ‘No’, I answered” And the doctor asked if I wanted to see the body. I said, “Yes,” but he told me that they had taken it away to make room for the next body. Rebecca told me it was all very sarcastic and cruel.

But the nightmare was not over. Then the bills started arriving. They were not married but the rehab center (which kicked him out) and the hospital demanded payment. “They fraudulently indicated that I signed the bills,” said Rebecca. “It’s been two years now and they’re still sending bills. Between the doctor and the financial games, I never had a chance to grieve over his death.” Rebecca’s eyes saddened as I asked her to sign for her consent.

“You can reach out for help, but if you have no health insurance you're nobody.”

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