Back in March, our gracious bloghost John Cole wrote a post about his shoulder surgery:
… I fell on the ice while carrying my dog and managed to land in such a way that I dislocated my shoulder, shattered my glenoid in multiple places, wrecked my labrum, detached my bicep, and basically decimated my shoulder. I had surgery close to six weeks ago to have everything rebuilt… it is time for the bills to come in. And mind you, I am not complaining, just highlighting how expensive everything is… [T]he total dollar value on a bionic shoulder in West Virginia is: About $28,000.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind. The $28k price tag is because I have insurance. If I did not, there is no doubt in my mind that the total bill would be closer to 100k. As we know, those without insurance are basically robbed by hospitals and charged double, triple, and even quadruple what this with insurance are charged.
Second, if I did not have insurance, there is a solid chance I probably would not have 100k lying around to replace my shoulder. So I could probably get my surgery done, and then would choose between being in debt my entire life or declaring bankruptcy. But would I get the same care I got? I very seriously doubt it. I saw the best surgeon in my area, a member of the American College of Surgeons and a specialist on shoulder injuries. I got fantastic overnight pain management and monitoring of my condition at the hospital. I am getting excellent therapy at a premiere rehab place. Would all that be true if I were uninsured and broke?…
And now we have one possible answer:
Kathy Myers, a 41-year-old woman from the broke-ass wasteland known commonly as Michigan, recently shot herself in the shoulder hoping that emergency doctors would also have to fix a different shoulder injury while they were working on her. They didn’t.
Myers hurt her shoulder while playing with her dogs in her yard… and, as one of the 1.2 million folks in Michigan without health insurance, had to endure weeks of pain without treatment. Finally she decided to take matters drastically into her own hands.
“They said it would have to be life-threatening or imminent danger for them to do anything, so I was making it be imminent danger that something had to be done.”
In addition to not getting her shoulder fixed — they took care of the bullet wound but not the other injury — Myers might face criminal charges for discharging a firearm within the city limits of Niles, MI.
The link goes to Richard Lawson’s Gawker post, where the comments are thoughtful and sometimes heartbreaking. The comments at the Daily News article that Lawson linked are… not.
And I should probably point out that Niles is in the “nice” part of Michigan (mostly Caucasian, rural-turned-bedroom-suburb, Dutch Reform stronghold, not far from Blackwater’s birthplace) and that Michigan actually has better legislative safeguards for the uninsured than most states. Everybody’s broke and desperate, is the problem.