Meet Kimberly Young (UPDATED)

Kim Young

This is the tragic story of Kimberly Young, a sad casualty of our health care crisis:

A 22-year-old woman from Oxford, Ohio, died from swine flu on Wednesday…Reports now indicate that after initially getting sick, Young put off treatment because she was uninsured:

Young became ill about two weeks ago, but didn’t seek care initially because she didn’t have health insurance and was worried about the cost, according to Brent Mowery, her friend and former roommate.

[…]

On Tuesday, Sept. 22, Young’s condition suddenly worsened and her roommate drove her to McCullough Hyde Memorial Hospital in Oxford, where she was flown in critical condition to University Hospital in Cincinnati.

That’s the most tragic part about it. If she had insurance, she would have gone to the doctor,” Mowery said.

[Emphasis mine]

Kimberly Young is just one of 45,000 Americans who die each year because they lack adequate health care.

Had we enacted President Obama’s vision for health care reform, Kimberly Young could have gotten either free health care under the public option or subsidies that would have let her buy health insurance from a private company, and may still be alive today.

I can already hear the cries from the right accusing people like me of ‘politicizing’ Young’s death.

Remember, though, that the right planted their flag in health care reform and declared that they would kill it for no other reason than to deny President Obama and Democrats a victory.  Health care is only a political issue because conservatives made it a political issue.

But health care reform shouldn’t be a political issue because, in the year 2009, in the United States of America, nobody should die because they can’t get adequate health care.

If we had reformed our health care system years ago, when the situation was first starting to get dire, Kimberly Young and the tens of thousands of Americans like her might still be alive today.  And the longer we delay passing comprehensive health care reform, the greater the likelihood that we will have more needless deaths on our hands.

UPDATE: The right’s response to this story is as stupid as it is heartless–they’re saying that Kimberly Young could have gotten health care but chose not to and, therefore, her death was her own fault.

Well, hindsight is 20/20–I’m sure that, if Kimberly Young knew her sickness was fatal, she would have seen a doctor even if it had bankrupted her.

But the point is that she didn’t know. And, in fact, tens of millions of other Americans get sick every year and also don’t know whether or not their illness is harmless or dangerous.

That’s why it’s a good idea to see a doctor when you get sick and for regular check-ups. But doctor’s visits tend to be expensive, which is why people get health insurance in the first place.

People shouldn’t have to gamble with their health. People shouldn’t have to choose between seeing a doctor when they’re sick and going into significant debt or not seeing a doctor and running the risk of their illness possibly killing them.

Kimberly Young did make a choice, and it turned out to have been the wrong one. But she should have never been forced to make that choice; unfortunately, our current health care system forces the uninsured to essentially gamble with their health.

That’s why we need comprehensive health care reform, why we need to ensure that everyone in America has access to affordable, quality health care. The fact remains that, had we implemented comprehensive health care reform, Kimberly Young could have health care and could still be alive today.

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