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Hospital experience shows need for Obamacare

Aug. 24, 2013 at 3:24 a.m.


Editor, the Advocate:

Before I finally retired nearly two years ago, I served 30 years as a Catholic chaplain in various hospitals, roughly half here and half in Chicago. In this time, I had many elderly patients who told me that they wanted to die because they were going to lose all their savings and even their houses (in Illinois, at least) because they had no health insurance.

Although I sympathized, I did not fully empathize with the plight of the medically uninsured until an experience of my own brought home to me personally the horrendous consequences of having no health insurance.

On Jan. 17, 2010, I had one of the first attacks of a neurological malady, which later developed into a major disorder from which I have not yet completely recovered. I was actually already at DeTar Hospital to see some patients when I was stricken by an attack of weakness and dizziness so severe I asked to be wheeled into the ER.

They did some tests, and a doctor saw me for about 10 minutes. They could find nothing wrong. After only an hour or so, they dismissed me. By that time, I was feeling almost normal.

But not when I got a bill for $6,066.00! I had gotten huge bills other times for next to nothing by way of treatment, but there was always a mysterious thing labeled "adj.," which brought the bill way down. This time, there was a mix-up. The hospital thought I had no insurance - not even Medicare. So this time, there was no adjustment. They socked me with the whole thing.

The matter was eventually resolved with Medicare paying $446.17, and I only paid $86.16.

I have found that my DeTar experience was not unique; it probably is the norm. The March 4 issue of Time featured only one very long article that recited a long litany of stories similar to mine but many much more horrendous. It also described numerous other nightmares of our present system.

If not Obamacare, then what?

Fr. Gabriel Franks, Victoria

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