Choosing not to pay ≠ unable to pay

Dave Killion — September 3, 2011

ABC News is reporting that a 24-year-old father from Ohio has died from a tooth infection

“… Kyle Willis’ wisdom tooth started hurting two weeks ago. When dentists told him it needed to be pulled, he decided to forgo the procedure, because he was unemployed and had no health insurance.

When his face started swelling and his head began to ache, Willis went to the emergency room, where he received prescriptions for antibiotics and pain medications. Willis couldn’t afford both, so he chose the pain medications.”

The rest of the article is given over to informing us that this sort of thing has happened before, that things are bad and getting worse, and there are ever so many people without health insurance. What it doesn’t tell us is whether or not Willis actually couldn’t afford antibiotics. It appears from the article that the family didn’t say so, and the hospital didn’t say so, so it looks as if someone just decided that because the guy was unemployed and uninsured, he couldn’t afford the medicine. Personally, I can’t help but wonder.

The fact is, there are very few people in the US and Canada lacking adequate shelter, food, and clothing. There are, however, lots of people who make trade-offs we don’t understand, and it may well be that Willis was one of those ‘poor’ people with a car, a cell phone, a game system, and cable TV. Did he have friends or family who could have given or loaned him the money if he thought he needed the medicine that badly? Was he a smoker? Did he spend any money on liquor or drugs? Who knows! All we are told is that he couldn’t afford what would have been life-saving medication, and that there is no reason for his death other than a lack of universal health insurance.

It’s a little more than I can believe.


Ashley Johnston says

“No American should have to choose between health insurance and protein powder.” lol

— September 4, 2011

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