Well, apparently Romney was wrong -- going to the emergency room actually equals bankruptcy, bill collectors and general hell if you don't have health insurance.
Just ask Washington DC bartender Mike Boone. He was stabbed after attempting to save a woman from attack and robbery:
Indeed, the health care system did not let Boone bleed to death on the sidewalk. But it did bury him in life-altering debt. After four days in the hospital and two surgeries, the 39-year-old -- hailed as a hero on Capitol Hill and beyond for his actions -- is staring at $60,000 in medical bills so far. And they haven't stopped rolling in.Only in America does the free emergency room that's not really free force a hero -- or just someone unlucky enough to have an accident in the kitchen -- to face bankruptcy and actually pay hospital bills higher than that which mega-profit insurance companies themselves face.
Well-wishers, moved by media reports of his story, have donated $17,000 to help Boone cover his expenses, and he's hoping a public fund for crime victims could defray as much as $25,000 more. But Boone, who said he expects to earn only about $15,000 this year, figures he'll still be looking at nearly $20,000 in debt, all for risking his life for a fellow human being.
Under ObamaCare -- which goes into full force in 2014 -- this man -- who will not earn more than about $15,000 this year -- would be covered by Medicaid and his hospital bill for saving a woman's purse -- and maybe her life -- would be $0.
Now, before any Tea Partiers reading this diary try to blame our dear hero for being irresponsible and not taking medical coverage -- he tried, but the extortionate mega-profit insurer premiums were too much given Boone having broken his back years ago:
Given his pre-existing condition, Boone said, the cost of purchasing individual health insurance was astronomical. If an insurer even made him an offer, he said, he was seeing quotes of $1,000 per month -- far beyond what he could afford. Under Obamacare, Boone should be able to find an affordable plan on the new health care "exchanges" being established in 2014.So, yeah, that would have left him with $3,000 to pay for things like, say, food, rent, toilet paper, and bus tickets.
What is he to do? Well, since he can't ask his parents for money as Romney suggests for most expensive things, he's turning to charity:
Given that he'd risked his life to help a patron, Boone was a particularly good candidate for a community fundraiser. Days after he left the hospital, a charity night at Trusty's and a PayPal account pulled in $17,000 to go toward his medical bills. A line stretched down the block, as people who'd never been to the bar before showed up to meet him.Charity is great and all, but it's hardly an effective way to finance health care and reduce costs. Still, as a recent NPR report suggests, it's something a lot of people are doing these days, even with the magic free emergency rooms:
One site that's capitalized on personal-cause crowd funding is GoFundMe. CEO Brad Damphousse says in 2012 alone, the site's users have raised more than $6 million for medical causes, and Medical, Illness & Healing is the site's most popular category, attracting 17 percent of the site's total donations.Perhaps Mr. Boone will be setting up a page on these for-profit Web sites in the near future. Perhaps not.
In exchange for help with creating a donation Web page and making it easy to share it on social media, GoFundMe takes a 5 percent cut from all money raised. GiveForward and YouCaring are two other sites in the business of medical crowd funding (GiveForward charges a 7 percent fee on money raised), and they also attract millions in donations.
Some GoFundMe campaigns in the medical category range from modest requests for $1,000 to cover gas cards for parents to visit their baby son in the NICU, to ambitious goals to raise $200,000 for a medical trust fund (for one of the survivors of the Aurora theater shootings).
What can we do?
Well, the MedStar Washington Hospital Center's chief financial officer, Douglas Zehner, is crying a river about giving out care to poor people:
Douglas Zehner is the senior vice president and chief financial officer at MedStar Washington Hospital Center in northwest Washington, where Boone was treated. He said Medstar gave $22.1 million worth of care to uninsured or underinsured patients and forgave $85.1 million in debt last year. But that charity isn't free. The only way the hospital can recoup its losses, Zehner said, is by negotiating with private insurance providers for higher prices, a process known as "cost-shifting."Fair enough. Yeah, his logic is true. But this hero is not getting any hospital support at the moment. Mr. Boone is still getting bills from MedStar -- and even though his salary as a bartender is pretty much just above the poverty line -- he has not gotten any charity support from the hospital.
This is pretty appalling given that just some of the bonuses of MedStar hospital executives would probably cover his care.
Let's support this hero -- and victim of a brutal medical system -- by emailing CFO Douglas and kindly -- but forcefully -- asking that they remove all of Mr. Boone's hospital bills as an act of charity. Here's the contact information:
Douglas A. Zehner, CPA, MSHACall, send an email, or do both. And then vote for President Obama -- so that we can have fewer of these tragedies in the future.
Senior Vice President
Chief Financial Officer
This tragedy is Romney's America.
Thanks for all you do, Kos Community.
1:48 PM PT: Thanks for the rec list! Let's keep supporting this hero!