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My 50-year-old brother died suddenly on Wednesday, August 8, 2012. It ought not have happened.

I explain below the fold.

My mother, who lives with me and my family due to health reasons, was speaking with my brother on the phone a few hours before he died. He had slipped and fallen in the shower earlier that morning and was in a lot of pain, crying. He had to crawl out and eventually up, he said. My mother pleaded with him to call an ambulance to come get him, since he said he was in too much pain to drive himself.

My brother countered that, because he was underemployed, the only available insurance he had and could afford had a $6,000 deductible, an amount he did not have, he said, and certainly an amount that neither my mother nor myself could help him with. He stated that he had already maxed out his credit cards paying for health care the year prior to meet his deductible. I overheard enough of this to interject through my mother. "Your brother says get to a doctor NOW."

When my mother called my brother an hour or so later, he did not answer. We figured he had probably called 911 and had been taken to the hospital by ambulance. As it turns out, he had not been. He was laying dead on his kitchen floor.

I disdain the idea of politicizing my brother’s death, but over the past few days, I find I simply cannot help wondering. What if costs were not a factor when he had the initial thought to seek health care? What if those costs were simply covered by reason of him being a citizen of the country to which he was born and to which he had long contributed? Would the outcome have been different? Would my brother still be alive - to be here to love those who loved him, to continue to be my best friend, to continue to have an important role in the lives of his mother, three nephews, others, and his society?

I can’t help thinking, "Yes."

UPDATE #1: Thank you everyone for your kind expressions of support and condolences. I appreciate it very much. I'm working together with you toward the day when health care becomes a universal right in the U.S.

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