Sunday, September 13, 2009

Do we wish to be the only rich nation in the world that lets a 32-year-old woman die because she can’t get health insurance? Is that really us?

"Nikki was a slim and athletic college graduate who had health insurance, had worked in health care and knew the system. But she had systemic lupus erythematosus, a chronic inflammatory disease that was diagnosed when she was 21 and gradually left her too sick to work. And once she lost her job, she lost her health insurance." Nicholas Kristof tells the true story of Nikki White in an Op-Ed column in the New York Times on September 13, 2009.

The story of Nikki White graphically explains what is wrong with our current system, and why health care reform is so desperately needed. After she lost her job and health insurance, Nikki tried everything to get medical care, but no insurance company would accept her. As Kristof explains, "She spent months painfully writing letters to anyone she thought might be able to help. She fought tenaciously for her life.

Finally, Nikki collapsed at her home in Tennessee and was rushed to a hospital emergency room, which was then required to treat her without payment until her condition stabilized. Since money was no longer an issue, the hospital performed 25 emergency surgeries on Nikki, and she spent six months in critical care."

Here is the irony - “When Nikki showed up at the emergency room, she received the best of care, and the hospital spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on her,” said her step-father, “But that’s not when she needed the care.”

By then it was too late. In 2006, Nikki White died at age 32. Her doctor, Amylyn Crawford, said, “Nikki didn’t die from lupus, Nikki died from complications of the failing American health care system.”

Access to early, appropriate health care is something that any of us can loose without warning. We need reform. I do not want to live in the only rich nation in the world that lets anybody die because they can’t get health insurance.


Anonymous said...

Keep up the good work

David A. Lynch, M.D. said...

We all need to do that!

Erin said...

I remember this article. I also do not want to live in the only rich nation in the world that allows someone my age to die because of a lack of health insurance. This is us, but it doesn't have to be. We can do better to improve this system!