Fort Worth, TX
Mitt Romney: "We don't have a setting across this country where if you don't have insurance, we just say to you, 'Tough luck, you're going to die when you have your heart attack. No, you go to the hospital, you get treated, you get care, and it's paid for, either by charity, the government or by the hospital."
The Reality: About 45,000 people die each year because they don't have health insurance and are afraid to go to the doctor or the emergency room because of the cost. If they do go to the emergency room, the uninsured get a bill for four to five times more than insurance companies pay for the same emergency care, and they are hounded by bill collectors until they either cough up the money or until they are forced to declare bankruptcy. Most of the people who declare bankruptcy because of medical bills (the principal cause of personal bankruptcy in America) have health insurance. Hospitals are only required to render emergency medical care, but "emergency medical condition" has a narrow definition. It includes active labor for women and acute conditions that would cause death, serious organ harm or serious function impairment if they are not treated right away, like a heart attack, but there's no access to lipid panels, stress tests or prescriptions for cholesterol medications that might help you avoid the heart attack in the first place. You cannot get chemotherapy in the emergency room nor can you get the tests that might detect the cancer at an early stage. The idea that emergency rooms provide universal health care is a lie of monumental proportions.
Huffington Post comment: "Six years ago I suffered a heart attack. The bill was over $60,000, though all but $20,000 was taken care of by insurance. Still, because of the copays and expensive medicines after that, even with insurance we faced financial ruin. Over the years, medical bills drain the life out of a family, even with insurance. And they kill families outright if they don't have insurance."
Huffington Post story:
Lianne Valenti said she finds Romney's comment "frightening."
Valenti, who is 47 and lives in Long Beach, Calif., lost her job last year, and her health insurance along with it. In the fall, she started feeling mild chest pains. Researching online, she figured the problem was gallstones. She tried cheap alternative remedies instead of going to the doctor.
The spasms of pain got worse and worse, until one night in January it became unbearable. "I was sitting here in my chair and it lasted for two hours," Valenti told The Huffington Post at the time. "It was all I could do to breathe. I couldn't open my eyes."
She had a friend take her to the hospital, where she said doctors told her she'd suffered a heart attack and almost died.
"If I had had my insurance I would have gone to the doctor in October," Valenti said. "The pain was unbearable. I've never had pain like that, and I've had three children."
She received a $79,000 bill.
Edited by Sam on Oct 14, 2012 6:08 PM