OK

This happened before Obamacare, while it was being argued over in Congress. It couldn't happen today, or could it? Many of the provisions of the ACA don't go into effect until 2014. Details below the orange thingie.

My son-in-law's aunt died long before she should have. She was 47, with perhaps some history of heart trouble before that age, but she had developed congestive heart disease. She'd had to quit her job because of her health, but had not qualified for Medicaid in that state. She had applied for disability, but had not yet had her hearing. Therefore, sick as she was, she'd had no insurance for a year. Now we all "know" that hospitals are supposed to treat people who have no insurance if they are seen emergently, but in practice that does not always happen. This is what happened to Tía Sandy. There may be some details missing since I don't know her complete medical history, but this is how her life ended.

She went to the ER with shortness of breath and swelling in her ankles. She was seen by the doctor and sent home with a prescription for diuretics which she could not afford. Somehow she managed to scrape together enough money from the family to get them, but that took a couple of days. She started taking them as prescribed after she was able to get them, but it might have been too late already, because they weren't helping the way they should have. The next week she was back in ER, again complaining of shortness of breath. The triage nurse and the doctor (a different one than had seen her before) decided it wasn't an emergency and she was sent home with instructions to continue the diuretics as prescribed. Two days later her son found her dead in her recliner. She was buried on the day she was to have had her disability hearing. That hearing would most likely have qualified her for Social Security disability payments and for Medicaid.

Nobody should have to die because they don't have insurance. Nobody should have to go without treatment or prescribed medication. Why didn't she go to the doctor instead of the ER? Because she couldn't pay for the office visit. She felt bad enough the first time she went in that perhaps she hoped she'd be admitted. No telling what she thought when she went back the second time. And did her lack of insurance influence the doctor's decision to send her home? Who knows? The only thing we do know is that if we had Medicare for all, or even if the ACA were fully in effect, my son-in-law's aunt would most likely have been able to buy her medicine, could have been under a doctor's care, and might even still be alive. We can't stop fighting for decent health care; Obamacare is only a start.

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