Skip to main content

You don't need me to tell you that illness is often accompanied by pain. Uninsured Americans suffer with pain because healthcare remains a privilege not a right. And in the richest country on the planet,
we tolerate this depraved state of affairs

Overnight, we can come up with $700 billion for Wall Street, but we debate whether we can afford healthcare for all our citizens.

The Philadelphia Inquirer is running a series about uninsured Americans, the hurdles they face, and the pain they endure. Yes, dear friends, not having access to healthcare means you often live with pain, frequently unbearable suffering.

I've long wondered, how these Americans cope. Well wonder no more, it's all here.

Today, the Inquirer profiled a man named Richard Hershman.

This is Richard Hershman.

Philadelphia Inquirer

Richard has no insurance. For many years though, Hershman did have insurance through his employer. He was dropped when his healthcare needs began to drive up the costs of the insurance for his employer.

Once you read about these Americans, you'll understand why I believe President Obama will not abandon them--and us, and his campiagn pledge to make healthcare a right in the United States of America.

Now Hershman is uninsured, what follows is his story.

On Jan. 17, Hershman was out in front of his apartment, giving Blue a short walk. He slipped on the ice. His bones are as brittle as twigs because of years on the steroid prednisone to treat his diseased lungs.

His arm snapped.

An ambulance took him to the emergency room at Nazareth Hospital, where, he said, "I was in and out like a car wash."

The ER staff X-rayed his arm, stabilized it in a splint, and told him to follow up with an orthopedic surgeon, because he was going to need surgery.

He called the Rothman Institute on Holme Avenue, across from Nazareth Hospital.

"The first question they asked me was, 'Do you have insurance?'

"I said no."

"OK, bring $600. That's for your initial consultation."

"Ma'am," he says he told the woman on the phone, "I have emphysema and am borderline impoverished. I don't have $600."

She said, " 'Well, you can't come here,' " he recalled.

So Hershman did nothing because, "nobody would help".

Hershman said it took six weeks "of me being in utter agony" before he was approved for medical assistance by the state Department of Public Welfare.

He was aided in this effort by the staff of the Pennsylvania Health Law Project, which helped speed along his application for medical assistance - state-provided health insurance for the poor - effective March 1.

Then he got an appointment at Temple University Hospital with Asif M. Ilyas, assistant professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery.

Hershman says the doctor's first question was: "Why did you wait so long to get surgery?"

Hershman said he told the doctor he tried, but nobody would help.

Ilyas operated on March 2.

I hope you'll finish reading Richard's story.

Other uninsured Americans are also profiled. Their stories are equally heartbreaking and horrific barbaric.  Meet Iyasu Habtemicael.

Photobucket

Izzy drives a florist truck for $8 an hour most days and then works nights in a University of Pennsylvania parking garage.

Izzy has diabetes and is uninsured.

Because of these factors, compounded by his own belief that he couldn't get in to see a doctor, Izzy nearly died last spring when his diabetes soared out of control.

In immense pain and vomiting blood, he went by ambulance to Mercy Philadelphia Hospital, where he spent five days in intensive care. The charges came to $41,000.

The nurse practitioner who treated him said it all could have been avoided if he'd had better access to a doctor.

Here's someone else you should meet. Her name is Ruby Spencer. It would be wonderful if President-elect Obama knew about Ruby. She and millions just like her, are hanging in and counting on him to make good on his campaign pledge to bring guaranteed and affordable healthcare to the United States.

Photobucket

This is Ruby's story.

The "abdominal pelvic complex cystic mass," as the ultrasound report calls it, measures 32 to 35 centimeters - the size of a football - and may be malignant.

Everyone she has seen sent her somewhere else. The emergency room at Temple University Hospital referred her to a city clinic and back to a state welfare office and then sent her home.

She had no insurance.

"We got turned down from everybody I tried," she said this week, in her Logan home, six weeks after learning about the tumor inside her. "I can't wait till I'm 65 to get Medicare. I'll probably be dead by then."

Her experience shows how difficult it can be to get care without insurance. Only after an Inquirer reporter asked for explanations did public agencies involved in her case start to respond, promising help.

Richard, Izzy and Ruby are just three of the 48 million.

Originally posted to nyceve on Mon Nov 10, 2008 at 03:12 PM PST.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Leslie in CA, claude, Ed in Montana, Joe Bob, democrattotheend, MS, Terri, tmo, hazey, Bill in Portland Maine, Josh Prophet, SilverWings, Buckeye BattleCry, copymark, teacherken, peggy, TrueBlueMajority, sen bob, Unstable Isotope, Powered Grace, maynard, kathyp, walter mitty, tommurphy, alicia, jazzizbest, eeff, Mnemosyne, willyr, HootieMcBoob, kdub, devtob, SallyCat, shpilk, lotusmaglite, dlcox1958, Joe B, CivicServant, bumblebums, vrexford, GreekGirl, LIsoundview, madhaus, RubDMC, bigforkgirl, opinionated, bronte17, sponson, elveta, groggy, sarahnity, OCD, Jeffrey Feldman, undercovercalico, Morague, KibbutzAmiad, Mlle Orignalmale, PBnJ, Patricia Taylor, roses, javelina, ivote2004, skertso, Beagle123, L0kI, nargel, redux, high uintas, Alna Dem, celticshel, dksbook, wader, DustyMathom, dangoch, scorpiorising, danthrax, TexDem, oldjohnbrown, Dallasdoc, DeadB0y, mad ramblings of a sane woman, grannyhelen, Boppy, Smartyjones, hoolia, exiledfromTN, peternight, Kidspeak, desmoinesdem, churchylafemme, pdl ithaca, Oy the Billybumbler, Chirons apprentice, antoinette from NYC, TX Scotia, betson08, snakelass, John Driscoll, AbsurdEyes, Greg in TN, lcrp, alizard, inclusiveheart, bobcat, Dave925, Oaktown Girl, Panda, Cordelia Lear, ybruti, jesses, WV Democrat, eco, DarkSyde, lurker123, bablhous, kd texan, Daddy Bartholomew, malcontent, snowbird42, peacenik, Sassy, Jersey Joe, Sajun777, hopalong, Big Tex, rapala, madaprn, Skennet Boch, joanneleon, angrybird, chumley, jabney, historys mysteries, Bluesee, marina, radarlady, BadgerGirl, escapee, Tinfoil Hat, PAbluestater, christineNYC, NoMoreLies, freakofsociety, el dorado gal, docangel, baccaruda, SherwoodB, Alice Marshall, PBen, offred, elkhunter, panicbean, clammyc, juliesie, drewfromct, Brooke In Seattle, YucatanMan, Laurence Lewis, madmommy, reflectionsv37, eru, Morrigan, jimreyn, Kayakbiker, smkngman, Skid, WolfmanSpike, blue jersey mom, Joy Busey, jeff in nyc, paxpdx, deep, Bob B, Rydra Wrong, Silence is Complicity, benny05, jilikins, Eileen B, Cory Bantic, Rogneid, The Fat Lady Sings, Spathiphyllum, JanL, Ekaterin, tvb, Arsenic, noweasels, Jim R, MrBurns17, debedb, mariva, salvador dalai llama, Born in NOLA, third Party please, dus7, Shirl In Idaho, Nance, MissInformation, tommymet, ej25, Clytemnestra, testvet6778, sambar, BlueInARedState, emeraldmaiden, Themistoclea, Big Eddie Calzone, Ellicatt, cookseytalbott, Samwoman, poichick, Esjaydee, Wary, mooomb, rockyboy, Lefty Coaster, SherriG, Silent Lurker, RockNAwe, triv33, tecampbell, Bob Sackamento, imabluemerkin, Doctor Frog, NearlyNormal, armadillo, CTLiberal, Preston S, justCal, MarciaJ720, myrealname, ER Doc, doinaheckuvanutjob, quantumspin, llbear, Turbonerd, SingerInTheChoir, BlueMississippi, BlueSue, Persiflage, Roatti, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, va dare, Dreaming of Better Days, Blicero, Bernie68, Hedwig, Temmoku, slksfca, Little, ZenTrainer, Aaa T Tudeattack, AntKat, eastmt, subav8r, AmericanRiverCanyon, One Pissed Off Liberal, BoyBlue, phonegery, DrSteveB, YoyogiBear, willie horton, Cronesense, Fredly, SparkleMotion, hockeyrules, AmericasReporter, moodyinsavannah, godislove, mamabigdog, bamablue, gtghawaii, terryhallinan, moosely2006, lachsis, Allogenes, FishOutofWater, Blue Waters Run Deep, ebiker, david mizner, flumptytail, Jimdotz, terabytes, joyful, drchelo, entlord1, Unbozo, reason7, ProbStat, brentmack, jedennis, klnb1019, vbdietz, BlueInKansas, cyncynical, ultraslacker, Newzie, jnhobbs, millwood, Moderation, jhop7, carpunder, Progressive Chick, uciguy30, ImpeachKingBushII, JML9999, Zydekos, Desa, homerun, cloudbustingkid, Bikemom, Spedwybabs, Terra Mystica, TomP, vivaldi, Red no more, JDWolverton, rogerdaddy, Spruce, Shane Hensinger, adamsmo, davewill, The Bagof Health and Politics, Chacounne, scooter in brooklyn, OleHippieChick, Youffraita, spencerh, ozkid, honey, filby, gelliebeans, Archangel, Its any one guess, Greasy Grant, kaolin, tofumagoo, Cassandra Waites, evora, icebergslim, daddy4mak, TokenLiberal, MsWings, NogodsnomastersMary, saildude, gildareed, alnep, mofembot, Spekkio, SmileySam, the new, winterbanyan, luckylizard, mattc129, nokkonwud, aigeanta, mary13L, DixieDishrag, BYw, chauie, A Man Called Gloom, allie123, dont think, Guadalupe59, marketgeek, magicsister, Futuristic Dreamer, In her own Voice, Acugal, dmhlt 66, toom, shortgirl, jlms qkw, Johnny Venom, Sarah Ann, clent, SciMathGuy, Pris from LA, 1BQ, Nylawstudent, Bule Betawi, litoralis, RNinOR, snackdoodle, normboyd40, plumcrazie, Discipline28, Shhs, fearisthemindkiller, ussr, Dopeman, Carol in San Antonio, forestgreen, Partisan Progressive, ScientistSteve, earicicle, rini6, mississippi boatrat, Daily Activist, Mercuriousss, redtex, ZilV, chinchin, jemjo, jazzence, kw7777777, obscuresportsquarterly, sanglug, paintitblue, kevinpdx, IngeniousGirl, Shelley99, OffHerRocker, common green, Lib Noodle, Houston Gardener, Living in Gin, Katie71, Nonconformist, northernlights, FundaMental Transformation, Sarahsaturn, Wings Like Eagles, pinguin, Emalene, Super Grover, sophistry makes me tired, Larsstephens, browneyes, Lazar, ppl can fly, BrighidG, Liberal Pagan, foufou, rb137, Redwolf123, winkster, pyegar, robertacker13, blueingreen, seishin, Firecrawler09, Big Danny, newlymintedjerseygirl, msmo1918, JellyBearDemMom, VaHopes, MelKnee, batchick, sullivanst, pixxer, Mariken, Kong10, Yasuragi, SoonerG, Actuary4Change, Weaselina, Betty Pinson, alethea, Rainefenix, roystah, MsGrin, bottles, kathleen518, nicholasclaxton, moke, jeanma, newusername, SwiftBoat McCain NOW, drchc15, ribofunk, Onomastic, Relevant Rhino, Verstand, yellow cosmic seed, Bike Crash, evelynevvie, croyal, Broadview, thebluecrayon, soaquarian, freesia, La Gitane, Bluerall, Liberal OC Woman, Matt Campbell, 012009 End of an Error, misskitty64, FightingRegistrar, it really is that important, geobabe13, page394, smallgal, conservodem, Medievalista, mellowwild, Veeajera, wideout179, FlCarat, drtinycat, JustDee, DJH NY

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site