She is not the first. She will not be the last. I have another writer friend whose health is bad, who is disabled, now unemployable, uninsured except by Medicaid. The Texas legislature has chosen to cut education and social services funding--including state funding for Medicaid. She cannot afford the health care she needs. She will not get the health care she needs. When she dies, it will be largely due to lack of medical care. (But after all, she's an adult woman--the least important group according to the GOP, who thinks the only lives worth making a fuss about are unborn and if women die giving birth, that's just fine.)
I have dear friends whose grandson has CHARGE syndrome. The child's parents both have good-paying jobs with good insurance, but even so the grandfather spends several nights a week as the night-nurse for the child (so the parents can work--they do need sleep if they're going to work all day, right?) because he must be suctioned several times a night. And the cost of the professional nurse--who must be a pediatric-ICU nurse to be familiar with a 2 yo-size tracheostomy, feeding tube, IV lines, etc--is huge on top of the copays for doctor visits, hospital visits and the necessary surgeries, and needed therapies that aren't covered. Last night his grandfather was on duty again--and spotted a sudden fever spike--so D- went in the hospital today. What will happen when his grandfather is sick...or dies? One night without nursing care and this kid could--probably would--die when his trach stopped up. Oh, well, this isn't an unborn child...this is a live child, fighting for a more normal life, so...I suppose the GOP would shrug off his death as the parents' problem. They should have managed to be born multi-millionaires.
When my husband lost his job in early 2001 (along with so many others) we lost the health insurance he'd had. The umbrella policy we carried (a $20,000 deductible) had risen over the years from $2500/year to $6000...then quickly went to $9000. We could not afford that. We went bare. We got our flu shots at grocery store clinics. We bet on our basic good health...but knew that if one of us had a serious accident or got cancer or had a heart attack, we'd have to choose between no-treatment (and the possibility of death) and the loss of our home after we'd eaten up our retirement savings. That's not a choice anyone should have to make (except Congresspersons voting against comprehensive health care: they should certainly be faced with the same choices as the rest of us.) Last year, when we became eligible for Medicare, we found that he had developed both high blood pressure (funny thing, stress...) and a chronic progressive condition, myasthenia gravis. Neither was new. We'd known something was wrong, but...we didn't go.
You sometimes hear a GOP official proclaim that the US has the best health care in the world. That's a lie. Our rank in the metrics that matter--life span, maternal and infant mortality, maternal and infant morbidity, for instance, have dropped steadily relative to the rest of the world; we are below average in important measures of health and access to health care. No other first-world country does as badly. Many so-called second-world countries don't do as badly.
Why is the GOP lying about the real cost of health care? Why are they scaring people with lies about "socialist medicine" and "death panels" and "rationing health care" and "government taking away your choices?" Why is the GOP pushing to privatize the existing government programs (except of course their own--so far Congress is unwilling to give up its cushy taxpayer-paid health care.) There's a simple answer. They're doing it for profit. For their profit. Because a one-payer system that insured everyone--that would let someone like Melissa Mia Hall see a doctor without risking losing her home or ruining her credit rating--that would not have family after family using up their retirement savings to pay bills for the aftermath of an automobile accident, any serious illness, a chronic condition, a child's disability--would not bring them the millions of dollars the for-profit insurance industry pours into the campaign chests of those politicians who dance to their piping...in other words, they're bought. They're willing to see people like Melissa, and my other friend, and yet other friends, die...because it is expedient that the poor, those who cannot afford to pay the inflated costs caused by the insurance industry, should die and get out of the way.
The truth is that medical care in this country is rationed now: by insurance companies that make a profit by raising premiums and cutting "allowed services, " by excluding individuals considered high risk and pre-existing conditions. I know of a young woman who could not get insurance at all because she had been in a bad car wreck (hers was hit by a drunk driver) and the insurance companies considered her too high a risk--uninsurable. That's rationing. As the parent of a disabled child (now a young man) who has been online and in parent support groups for years, I know that insurance companies decide--on the basis of their profits, not a child's needs--what will be paid for and what not. So many hours of therapy a year, so many visits to the doctor, so many changes of orthotics and prosthetics (never mind how fast the child grows) and soon (because disabled children have needs that go beyond company profits) the family uses up a lifetime's "allowables"...and of course can't get insurance anywhere else because of a pre-existing condition.
Choice is taken away now, by insurance companies that limit the physicians their customers can visit, the hospitals where they can be treated, the medications those physicians can prescribe. Choice is taken away from both the sick and injured--who can't choose the physicians they want, the hospitals they're closest to, the medication that works--and from the doctors who know their patients can't afford to defy the insurance companies--nor can they. The insurance companies do not care if discharging patients from the hospital too soon leads to complications and death later...and it does. When I worked in a small rural clinic, I personally saw several cases of required early discharge that led to complications. With any luck, that emergency will require an out-of-network visit which they won't have to reimburse. The insurance companies do not care if the only medication they approve for a condition is one that makes some patients sicker. For-profit companies care only about profit--it's what they learned in business school--and they can afford whole law-firms full of lawyers to deal with anyone brash enough to sue them. (They don't even have to pay for malpractice insurance, as doctors do...because although they have panels of nurses looking for reasons to refuse reimbursement and second-guess doctors, they're not officially practicing medicine, so nothing is their fault.)
People are dying now--and more will die--to line the pockets of for-profit health insurance companies and the politicians who do their bidding. One death--Melissa Mia Hall's death for instance--is too many. I don't want to grieve over any more.
I love someone who is sick but has no health insurance. I support health insurance reform, and I vote!