HP Live: Suicide Over ER Bills

HP Live: Suicide Over ER Bills

It has been suggested on the campaign trail that poor Americans can simply go to the emergency room when sick and get care for which they will not have to pay. To the contrary, uninsured Americans often do have to pay for emergency care, which can be more expensive than the cost of health insurance. In the case of one woman, she wanted so much not to saddle her family with expensive emergency room bills and hospital stays that she took her own life.

BJ Gallagher's son was married to a woman who committed suicide instead of racking up additional medical debt when she discovered that her cancer recurred. On a segment for HuffPost Live, Gallagher shared Edith Speed's story with host Nancy Redd.

Speed was first diagnosed with breast cancer in her early 40s. At the time, she struggled to keep up with her medical bills. "Her health insurance was so poor," Gallagher said. "It didn't cover her medical bills. She had to sell her car to pay for her share of the treatment."

Two years later when the cancer came back, Speed took her own life. "The note she left behind said that she didn’t want to go through that again," said Gallagher. "And that she didn't have another car to sell and she didn't want to leave her family with medical bills.”

Gallagher and Redd were joined by Kevin Flynn, President of HealthCare Advocates; Hanna Olsen, a blogger who until just a few months ago hadn't been insured for most of her adult life; Freddie Effinger, an attorney who had to beg for cancer treatment as an uninsured law student; and Ramiro Castro, an AOL encoder who broke his leg while unemployed and uninsured.

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