Saturday, February 28, 2009

Liver patient dies - lack of insurance cited

This article is a further discussion on the concept of Universal Health Care for the United States. If you have an opinion please leave your comments at the end of this post.

Flawed system leaves permanent mark

By Kelsey Duckett INDEPENDENT, Minnesota

The health care industry has failed yet another innocent, hard-working American. The loop-holes, fine-print, lies and scams of insurance companies and the health care industry need to be brought to light and changed now.

On the list of world health care systems, the United States ranks 37th out of 191 countries. Cuba is quickly gaining on he U.S. in the 39th spot, only two spots above Cuba - who offers health care to absolutely everyone.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that 54.5 million people were uninsured for at least part of 2008.

One argument I hear all too often against Universal Health Care is Americans are happy with their health care why change it? Well let's be honest, most Americans may be more than satisfied with their health care, but not everyone is allowed to become a patient.

Since we are on the subject of Universal Health Care, I just want to make clear to the readers that the rest of the Western world provides health insurance to everyone. These same citizens do not face co-pays, monthly premiums, pre-existing conditions or deductibles.

It has been stated by the Institute of Medicine that 18,000 people die every year in the United States because they don't have insurance.

18,000 people die ONLY because they are uninsured and for me, and fellow La Crescent High School Alumni, it has finally hit close to home. Recently Michael Wieser, 27, of La Crescent, a son, brother, uncle, cousin, classmate, athlete and model has died as a result of being uninsured.

In fact, Wieser played Division II college football at North Dakota State University, where he caught one of the most memorable passes in school history in 2003 to lift the Bison over the University of Montana 25-24 - a feat that arguably helped push NDSU into the Division I ranks. Wieser was also a two-time All-American for the Bison.

He was a three-sport standout athlete and student at La Crescent High School. He was the brother to 11 adopted siblings, the son of two loving parents and the friend of many from Minnesota to North Dakota to Nevada - where he was living and working as an entertainer.

Wieser was diagnosed with Wilson's Disease while in college at NDSU in 2001. Wilson's Disease is a genetic disorder that is fatal unless detected and treated before serious illness from copper poisoning develops. Wilson's Disease affects approximately one in 30,000 people worldwide. The genetic defect causes excessive copper accumulation in the liver or brain.

Wieser was uninsured, he was able to get insurance, however he could not afford the insurance, which would have not covered his fight with Wilson's Disease because it was a "pre-existing" condition. Wieser went to the hospital in Las Vegas on Tuesday for what he thought was a simple case of a cold. It turned out the disease had struck again and he would need a liver transplant in order to live.

Wieser was forced to cut many corners in order to manage his disease, and when it got worse, Nevada could not provide him care because it lost its donor program last year.

According to, the number of people waiting for a new liver is much larger than the number of available livers, so liver transplant is reserved for people who are critically ill. Some people will receive a liver right away, while others spend many months waiting for a liver transplant. About 6,000 liver transplant operations are performed in the United States each year, according to the Organ Procurement and Transplant Network.

If you are faced with not having insurance certain states will not even consider putting you on the transplant list. You are then forced to find financial support or pay out of pocket and a liver transplant procedure costs between $100,000 to $400,000 depending on time waiting in the hospital ICU and the extent of the liver disease before transplantation.

According to, costs can also vary greatly depending on a number of factors including the patients health at baseline, rate of recovery, any pre-existing conditions and/or potential complications after surgery. The severity of rejection and the number of medications or procedures that are needed after surgery can also affect the hospital costs. The cost of medications after the patient goes home from the hospital can range from $700 to $1,000 a month or more.

As of 7:16 a.m. Thursday there were 100,844 candidates on an organ waiting list and 15,722 are waiting for a liver.

Wieser was one of those 15,722 people that were in need of a liver transplant - by the time he had found a way around the cost and found a hospital (Mayo Clinic in Rochester) that would take him and place him on the transplant list - it was too late. Wieser died on Wednesday, Feb. 25 at 7:33 p.m.

No price should be placed upon any human being or any person ever.

A life should NEVER be wasted simply because of money, health insurance or simply because we have holes in our health care system that people fall through daily.

A person should NEVER die when he can be saved with a procedure. A person should NEVER die when there is a cure or he can be saved.

You may not agree with me or with Universal Health Care, but when your son or daughter graduates college and has to find and pay for their health insurance and they either are denied, have a pre-existing condition, or the cost is too much and you find your family in a situation similar to the Wieser family you will understand.

Trust me, when it is your son or daughter, your mother or father, or your best friend on the operating table you will not stand by and let them die simply because of insurance, money, or fine-print.

Enough is enough.

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”

Register to be a donor in Ontario or Download Donor Cards from Trillium Gift of Life Network
For other Canadian provinces click here

In the United States, be sure to find out how to register in your state at or Download Donor Cards from OrganDonor.Gov

In Great Britain, register at NHS Organ Donor Register

In Australia, register at Australian Organ Donor Register

Your generosity can save up to eight lives with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants. One tissue donor can help up to 100 other people by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves

1 comment:

fairenuff said...

Clearly the system isn't working if a ptient dies because they have a pre-existing health issue before taking out insurance or because they can't get insurance. Cleary. But I live in the UK where waiting lists are very long, treatment is reduced because the NHS system can't afford it and people have insufficient care. I don't think this system works either. I don't profess to know the answers, I wish I did.