Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Dying for lack of insurance
By Dr. Sanjay Gupta
Chief Medical Correspondent
For the past several months, we have been investigating our broken health care system. Everywhere we go, people agree it is in critical condition. As part of our research, I met Mark Windsor and I profiled him for the documentary, which airs Thursday at 11 p.m. ET. Mark tells us a very important story. He reminds us that being uninsured in this country not only means the loss of a safety net, incredible anxiety and possible bankruptcy. It could literally cost you your life.
When Mark was 27, he learned he had cancer and doctors operated on a large tumor in his neck. At that time, he had insurance and was able to get the operation. Thinking he was cured, Mark pursued a passion of his, photography. In the process, he lost the insurance he had through his job. And, the cancer came back. (Watch Video)
Now uninsured, Mark was slowly dying. At first he found doctors who would do his operations for free, but that lasted only so long. He was not eligible for potential life saving treatment because of the expense - hundreds of thousands of dollars. Now his doctors are convinced he will most likely have an abbreviated life. In a desperate measure, Mark married a woman, who was simply a good friend, at least partly so he could get insured. It may be too late. His cancer has spread to his lungs.
The United States is at a crossroads with its health care system. While men with cancer are more likely to live longer in the United States as compared with any country in the world, that provides little solace to Mark Windsor. (source: OECD)
All week long, we are going to be discussing this topic and I will break down the various health plans from the presidential candidates. The question I would pose today to get the discussion rolling is how do we take care of people like Mark Windsor, pay for their care and make sure the United States continues to have the best outcomes in the world?
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