Why are you seeing what you're seeing? Well, the woman delayed treatment for months (possibly years -- the article is somewhat unclear) until she was able to join the single payer, Medicare system for American adults aged 65 and over.
Evelyn, identified only by her first name, notice [sic] discomfort about six to eight weeks ago in her abdomen and her normally 120 pound frame was ballooning.As you might expect, she was close to being another casualty -- like nearly 50,000 other Americans a year -- of the massive-profit health insurance industry that enriches the likes of Aetna and Cigna CEOs and shareholders at the expense of hundreds of millions of Americans.
She sought medical help on June 4, days after her 65th birthday, when she would qualify for Medicare, the US health care programme for seniors.
"She was a skinny lady with a huge belly. I mean it looked like she was literally pregnant with triplets," said Dr David Dupree, who led the surgery on the woman, at Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, New Jersey.
"She was just all belly," he said in describing his first meeting with the patient, a housewife from nearby Union Beach, New Jersey.
"The reason she didn't go earlier was because she had no insurance," he said.
By now, she weighed more than 170 pounds, her legs were swollen with trapped blood, she was badly dehydrated, and, scans showed, the tumour – a malignant sarcoma – was crushing her inferior vena cava, one of the main veins returning blood to the heart, and putting her life in danger.Yes, Evelyn almost died, because in the US -- unlike in the country in which the newspaper is telling this story is located -- health care is all about the mighty dollar.
With her body too weakened to be operated on immediately, Dr Dupree scheduled surgery for the following Monday, allowing time for her to become rehydrated and for her blood pressure to be brought under control.
But after she became short of breath on Sunday evening, Dr Dupree brought the surgery forward.
"I knew that she wasn't going to make it through the night," he said.
"Either she goes now or she dies tonight," he recalled thinking.
Dr Dupree said he would advise uninsured patients to see a doctor immediately if they knew they were unwell no matter how near their 65th birthday might be. He said the hospital would have operated on Evelyn regardless of her insurance status, but added he did not know whether doing so would have cost her more money.While the Affordable Care Act may have helped Evelyn, it's questionable whether the for-profit junk insurance she would be forced to purchase would have motivated her to visit the doctor, given the still considerable costs attached to medical visits.
One thing's for certain: if she had access to Medicare from birth, she would have never suffered this medical indignity -- free-at-the-point-of-use care would have saved her from this outcome.
I suggest that we tweet this diary to @aetna and @cigna with hashtags such as #shame and #singlepayer. No, the insurers aren't directly responsible for this case, but, yes, their lobbying is responsible for preventing this country from having the Medicare for all system it needs and deserves.