On Romney, health care in America, and dying in your apartment

Recently, GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney told members of the Columbus Dispatch editorial board, "We don't have people that become ill, who die in their apartment because they don't have insurance. We don't have a setting across this country where if you don't have insurance, we just say to you, 'Tough luck, you're going to die when you have your heart attack.' No, you go to the hospital, you get treated, and it's paid for, either by charity, the government or by the hospital."

Many of us who have cancer laughed and shook our heads. Yes, people in America do die because of lack of health insurance, and because having health insurance is not a guarantee that you will receive affordable care.

In an opinion piece over at HuffPo, Wendell Potter, former insurance industry PR guy turned whistleblower and author, writes:

Romney is absolutely right, people who are uninsured don't have to die in their apartments. They can indeed be rushed to a hospital, and the hospital is obligated to treat them. It's what he didn't say, and likely doesn't understand because he simply can't relate to 47 percent of us, that is actually more important: many of the uninsured die in the hospital, in the emergency room, because they could not afford to get care earlier when it might have saved their lives. Instead of going back home to their apartments, many of them, unfortunately, go to the morgue.

More: Romney's Talking Points on the Uninsured Are Like the Ones I Wrote When I Was an Insurance Industry Flack.

Potter's book looks pretty great. I just ordered a copy. (thanks, Lani)


    1. From the party that brought you –
      – The Earth is 10,000 yrs old.
      – Legitimate Rape never results in pregnancy.
      – The rights of the unborn trump women’s right to live.
      – If your against abortion, you can lie to your patient.
      – Corporations are people, and they need handouts.
      – The money will trickle down.
      – It’s unamerican to question authority.
      – Shutup and take it underling.
      – Banks that are to big to fail have sacred contracts we can’t touch, but if your a teacher your contract means nothing.

      And that list goes on and on and on…
      All supported by people who think they can move up the ladder, not understanding when you crush everyone else your the bottom of the ladder now.
      Oh and dear Mittens left of the people who manage to get treatment and then are hounded by debt collectors seeking thousands, or sign up for a medical care “credit card” with a 35% rate benefiting the hospital.

      1. One minor correction: they’re the party of “it’s unamerican to question authority unless the authority says you can’t discriminate on the basis of gender, skin color, religion (or lack thereof) or sexual orientation. Then it’s your duty as a male, white, Protestant heterosexual to question authority.”

      2. Getting further educated, allows more opportunity to get jobs with large company’s that offer full time employees insurance.  I went 10 years without insurance and didn’t nurse off of the government’s udders either.   I also got my self back in college, with loans, to further my education to get a better job that pays for insurance.  NOTHING stops those uninsured to do the very same.  If they are generally dumb people, which there is an abundance of, they will have a hard time.  No one will come knocking at their door, grab them by the hand and say, “Hey Jane Doe/John Doe, I have a perfect 50K a year with benefits job just for you”.

        Obama has proliferated the Me Me generation with all the “obama bucks”, “obama phones” free free free….just come and get it.  Who do you think is paying for all that?  The ONLY sure entitlement in this life is PAYING TAXES and DEATH.

        1. Just wanted to clarify that there’s no such thing as an ‘obama phone’.  The subsidized phone service program was started under Reagan, with the (fairly sane sounding) rationale that it’s hard to get a job without a phone number.

          Not sure what ‘obama bucks’ references.

        2. That was the dumbest thing I have ever read. First of all, not every can go back to school. Some people need to work to support their families. Second, there are working poor with lousy health insurance, where it would only take 1 health scare to set someone back by months. I put myself through school, worked in a large law firm then was let go after 9 years. I was without health insurance for me or my kids. Luckily, I have been able to buy their medications. If you leave one job to go to another, and it could be the best paying job in the world, if you have a pre-existing condition before you could not get insurance with a new job. Obama wants to change that, Romney doesn’t think that matters. There are so many people out there with insurance but will not cover alot of life saving procedures. There are people out there with insurance but still have to pay an arm and a leg. So, before you claim to know it all, you should always do a little fact finding

        3. Evidently the education you got didn’t include any learning about compassion, or how some people get sick or have accidents or have other bad luck events that can ruin them. You didn’t “nurse off the government’s udders”? Really? You didn’t even use public roads?
          Looks like the rightwingnuts are after reducing yet another ‘entitlement’ for you (might want to check your dictionary) by getting rid of PAYING TAXES. At least, for the murderously rich; and after all, they’re the only actual people.

        4. 1 – What is it like to be white and privileged?
          2 – Government udders.  So you paved the sidewalks you walked?  You plowed the roads of snow?  I would continue but you get the drift.

          The Me Me generation started in the 80s.  The poor did not tank the world economy to make a few extra bucks.  You have NEVER been poor in your entire life, and presuming your life experience is the same for every other person shows low intellect or self deception of huge magnitude.

          Let me know when Mitt is paying more taxes than I am.

          Its nice to pretend this is all 1 man’s fault because it helps you avoid having to accept your own responsibility in all of this.  The system you lay out as being Obama’s fault… you helped create.
          Take your tea party wackiness back to Yahoo where it sells better troll.

  1. The Romney campaign has made much of his wife’s (quite genuine) struggle with cancer. I wonder if Mitt ever stopped to consider that they probably wouldn’t have caught it early enough to save her life if she hadn’t been able to afford regular doctor visits.

    1. He’s no idiot, of course he did.

      Now he’s something far far worse than an idiot for advocating positions he knows from personal experience are wrong.

      1. I agree he’s no idiot. I’m just trying to figure out the “pandering lies” to “genuinely out of touch with non-rich folks” ratio.

        1. Considering that someone at a 50K a plate dinner secretly recorded and released his ‘candor’ a few weeks back, i think maybe he’s put of touch with rich people, too.

          Corporations, on the other hand, those he seems to relate to. Those are his people.

          1. My theory was that the video was shot by a caterer.  Fun fact: food service personnel are actually completely invisible to people of Romney’s approximate net worth.

          2. Fun fact: food service personnel are actually completely invisible to people of Romney’s approximate net worth.

            I remember watching an old murder mystery based on (I think) an Agatha Christie novel in which the killer poisons his victim in the middle of a banquet by getting up from his seat, putting on white waiter’s gloves, and coming back to the table to serve up the lethal wine unnoticed.

            At the time it seemed ridiculous to me that no one else at the table noticed that the guy pouring wine was an undisguised member of their own dinner party, but now I’m not so sure.

          3. My theory was that the video was shot by a caterer. Fun fact: food service personnel are actually completely invisible to people of Romney’s approximate net worth.

            In that case, sir, may I advise against the lady eating the clam chowder?

      1. I for one may be autistic, and people say we lack empathy because we cannot read neurotypical people’s minds. But we do feel the same sympathy and compassion as anyone else.

        I thought most politicians and other status-seekers were sociopathic, not autistic, and can read most people’s minds. But they don’t feel the same sympathy and compassion as anyone else.

        It seems odd to me that people use the same description, which hurts autistic people btw, for autistic people who tend to be awkward and for sociopathic/ultraneurotypical people who tend to be master manipulators. What does that make the neurotypical people in the middle of the spectrum? Are they also lacking empathy?

        1. Good question: When I read various definitions, it seems that ’empathy’ and ‘sympathy’ are often used as synonyms.

          That said, I don’t think that a difficulty reading other people’s intentions and emotions (as in autism) is the same as an inability to experience certain feelings altogether. Psychopaths often are very good at reading other people’s emotions and drives but feel little inclination to identify with them or to reciprocate with genuine feeling (beyond exploiting them). Most autistic people I’ve known had genuine emotions (affection, compassion, etc) but had issues expressing them or perceiving them to and in other people.

          You could probably have some individuals who happen to be both autistic AND psychopathic, but I certainly hope the two aren’t lumped together by default in most people’s judgement. I certainly do not think of autists as psychopaths.

          1. Thanks. But as long as people say that we “lack empathy” and also say that sociopaths “lack empathy,” it’s a real problem. And I’m probably being unfair to sociopaths, who can also be good people. But as long as we live in a society which celebrates “people skills” above all and judges people by facial expressions and the like, we have a problem as bad as if it judges people by physiognomy.

          2. I don’t think that it’s possible to lack empathy while believing that you lack empathy. If you truly lack empathy, then you don’t believe that empathy really exists. That’s entirely different from being unable to read emotional cues. The former is a psychopathic trait; the latter is (sometimes) an autistic trait.

            I’ve known autistic people who know that they’re terrible at reading other people, so they just resolve to be pleasant and apologize if they cause offense. I’ve also known autistic people who refuse to believe that there’s anything going on that they can’t perceive, and they generally act like assholes. And also gravitate to managerial positions where they can do the most damage.

        2. Marja, I’ve never believed that those who suffer from autism or any related disorders lack empathy. In fact, the best explanation I’ve heard of autism is that it is a condition which removes your ability to filter thoughts and emotions, thus making social contact difficult. If anything, you may feel too much at one time to quickly form appropriate responses. That’s what causes the “resolute” responses of constant pleasantries or off-puttingness that Antinous mentioned. 

          Sociopathic behavior is another thing altogether. You’re absolutely right that true sociopaths mimic standard human emotional behavior while not genuinely feeling any standard emotions at all. The emotions they do feel are blunted and misdirected – often toward anger or violence. They are highly manipulative, and lie easily because they are so very good at mimicking needed responses. You’re also right in thinking that politics is a field in which people with some sociopathic tendencies will excel. Unlike autistics, who do have genuine trouble in social settings, sociopaths are by nature charismatic. They thrive in social settings.

          Since the two conditions are at opposite ends of the pysch spectrum, it would be very difficult for a person to function as both. People who confuse the two concepts just don’t truly understand either. They’re not actually making a solid claim against anyone based on good knowledge. Most people have been supplied with a poor understanding of autism, and that’s never been corrected. If you ask those same people what the difference is between: sociopath, psychopath, and schizophrenic they probably won’t be able to tell you what the defining characteristics of each are. It’s not surprising that they don’t know better. Patience, and a clear explanation are the best response you can give. (Having epilepsy myself, I’m familiar with explaining misunderstood health conditions.)

  2. Kinda also fails to mention that if you do make it, you get to be set upon by the accounting/collection minions of the hospital(s) that treated you, and see first-hand what bankruptcy court looks like.

    “Well Bob, the good news is that you’re alive… The bad news is we’re taking your house and any other worldly possessions that we feel we can liquidate.”

    1.  Add to that, “We wont even give you any idea what we intend to charge you and also don’t provide data on the relative costs of other hospitals so you are going to pay whatever we decide to charge you”.

  3. And it didn’t occur to Mitt “Business Genius” Romney that waiting until people become seriously ill and then treating them in the emergency room is about the least efficient possible way of doing things? That maybe that by spending a little money to ensure that people have access to basic preventative care, you could not only reduce the load on the ER, but save money in the long run as well?

    It’s not that Romney and his buddies don’t understand; it’s that they don’t want to understand. Or that they understand, but they pretend that they don’t for the sake of a talking point.

      1. Yeah, not a fool just an asshole.
        As a wiser man than Mittens once said, “Hey, just because I don’t care doesn’t mean I don’t understand!”

    1. Short term profit and long term loss have been the primary model for capitalism for a while now.

      1. If there’s always short term profit, then long term loss is easily written off as non-factual scare-mongering. The agar in the petri dish is all mine dammit. Get off my colony, parasite!

  4. There is a hospital by me that does not provide any type of financial aid for people who have health insurance.  So my girlfriend was brought there for emercency services and basically has to declare bankrupcy because the hospital has this bizarre policy.  She would be better off droping her provider and save herself about 20% of her yearly income (she’s poor), and have her bills covered by the government or charity, plus she would still have her car.

    If I ever needed to see how messed up the system is and how we’d be better off with universal health care, she’s my poster girl.

    1. Very sorry to hear that you and your girlfriend have gone through that.

      Stories like this affect very few conservatives and change their evil ways (until it happens to THEM), but it does help to rally the rest of us that DO CARE and want to change this wicked system in America.

      Thank you for sharing your story.

      1. I concur. Many people, self included, are working to change this unfair practice. But unfortunately, it’s going to take awhile.

  5. Romney either is simply clueless, or else is willfully ignorant.
    I guess I’ll go with clueless, since that is marginally better. Clueless Romney can at least be educated, right?
    From personal family experience, I know that Americans die from lack of health insurance. My brother-in-law had a successful fine cabinet-making business, which meant he had no employer from whom to get health insurance. He never bought his own insurance, but like many Americans paid out-of-pocket whenever he went to the doctor, which was not often enough. He knew something was wrong for years, but kept putting off going to a doctor because of fear of how expensive it would be. So I guess that would make his death his own fault, right, in this scenario? He should have gone to the emergency room with stage 4 peritoneal cancer, because I’m sure the docs could have fixed that right up?
    Ok, I’ve changed my mind: Romney is willfully ignorant.

    1. From personal family experience, I know that Americans die from lack of health insurance.

      I’m very sorry for your loss.  Your brother-in-law and well over 45,000 other Americans die in agony every year for the crime of not being able to afford health insurance and/or having it denied because of a pre-existing condition, etc.

      It’s sick.

      There is a solution, but the American people are going to have to educate themselves and demand a Single Payer System for Health Care.

      Americans can do better than this.

    2. Those stories are tragically common. My mother-in-law would likely be alive today if she hadn’t tried to “tough out” the last few months of her life instead of seeing a doctor before it became so bad she had to be carted off in an ambulance. Her final agonizing weeks accrued a debt that my father-in-law will probably be paying off for the rest of his life.

      And yet he still opposes universal health coverage and is planning to vote for Romney. The ability of the human mind to rationalize ideology is mind-boggling.

    3. So sorry to hear about your brother in law. So sad to hear but I can fully understand. My dad suffered a heart attack after being forced to retire due to a plant closing. So by all accounts he didn’t have health insurance, wasn’t old enough for social security, and because he was getting what the system calls good money from unemployment, didn’t qualify for any help. Because he didn’t have insurance the hospital kept talking to him about going to another hospital. One that could “help him out better”, translated to one that would give him care for free because they were not going to do it. So, while he was waiting for someone to tell him what his options were, he suffered another heart attack. He was finally able to collect social security and medical help. At that point the doctors told him that he had sustained about 15 to 20 damage to his heart. Last year I lost my wonderful father to a heart attack while he was walking to the store. I was the last one to talk to him on the phone, about half an hour before he passed. So when someone says that the Romney’s know what it’s like for the average American, I say please don’t feed me any BS, I’ve had enough thank you. Again, sorry to hear about your brother in law. I know how hard that can be

  6. A 2009 study published in the American Journal of Public Health estimated that almost 45,000 annual deaths in this country are associated with a lack of health insurance.

    Romney is straight out lying unless you want to let him get off on a technicality, that people “don’t die in their apartments” from lack of health insurance.  They just die in the hospital so that makes it so much better.
    (Also why does he think all these people live in apartments and none of them in houses?)

    So here are the choices.  One, Romney is a corporate whore who is lying to cover for his corporate masters.  Two, Romney is unaware of the fact that there are people who don’t have the advantages he does.  Three, he is aware of them but doesn’t care about them.  It’s “not his job to worry about them.”

    If it’s choice number one, we need campaign finance reform, stat.  Actually we need that, regardless.  If it’s choice number 2 or 3, Romney is unqualifed to be President, period.  He is supposed to represent the American people and care about what happens to them.  We can disagree on the policies that will help people, but we can’t disagree on the fact that there are many people who don’t have access to affordable health care.

  7. To anyone here who still hasn’t seen it, this is a damning exposé of the American health “care” system.

    Wendell Potter is interviewed in detail about how corporate America (in collusion with politicians) is making a killing by literally lying to American citizens about health care options:

    I’ve shown this interview to hard core libertarians and it even gave them pause.  This comes straight from the top guy at CIGNA.

     What more do you need, Americans?

    1. Looking forward to watching this but I’m a little surprised that there is such a thing as “hard care libertarians.”  I thought it was impossible for libertarians to care.  (jk, “libertarianism is a totally sound political philosophy with many wise and noble adherents yada yada”)

  8. I recently was diagnosed with a medical condition that I absolutely cannot pay for. Am I lazy? No. I’ve worked my entire life. The recession caused the family business I was trying to keep afloat to finally tank, and I had to look for a job. I spent 2.5 years unemployed. When I found a job, it wasn’t who I wanted, and I couldn’t afford the insurance because they paid so little. Now I’m having to crowd source for funds to get a surgery. I don’t know how it is in other states, but for a 41 year old male living in Texas, there is zero help I can get through the system because I don’t have kids and I’m not over 65. The hospitals idea of help is to shave 25% off my bill because I have to pay cash. I could very well end up as one of the people that dies in my apartment.
    This is what the face of modern health care looks like:


    1. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

      Thank you for sharing your story, Dale.  I’m going to contribute what I can and I hope others here do so as well.

      1. Thank you. It means a lot to me that so many people have reached out to help so far. I really do wish the internet existed as a kid. I wouldn’t have grown up so angry at the state of the world. There really are good people out there.  Once again, thank you. :)

    2. Get well soon, dude. Best wishes, and I hope you get a few more boingers to contribute besides just me and cow killer

  9. Why are we always discussing the cost of insurance and not questioning why the hospitals and their rates are left out. How about tort reform that let’s people be awarded ridiculous amounts of money. Why don’t we work on the total package. Insurance reflects the costs involved in care that are driven by legal costs driven by the insurance doctors carry that is driven by the legal costs. A big circle that can be cured by tort reform. Make medical care a public utility governed by the public utilities commission just like electrical power and others.

    1. It’s always been my understanding that a great deal of the cost in healthcare is because hospitals are required to treat even the uninsured and only on an emergency case basis. Emergency medicine being the most expensive so they often can’t afford it so the hospital has to eat their costs and pass it on to those people who they can get money from, the insured. Emergency medicine is also higher stress and higher risk, so from the Dr.’s standpoint he faces less hazard when he treats a patient thus reducing risk of lawsuits. You’re not preforming emergency heart surgery, you’re catching it, providing therapy and treatments to prevent the heart surgery in the first place. Or at least scheduling the surgery so you and the patient are prepared and the guy isn’t crashing on your table about to die. The idea is that if you insure more people, the hospitals can charge less for services because they are able to offer cheaper, preventative medicine, and they get paid.

  10. The more Romney keeps talking, it completely boggles my mind how out of touch he is with actual Americans. On such a variety of issues, he has NO idea (and more disturbingly, seems to have no idea that he has no idea).

    If you haven’t seen it, search #insurancepoll on Twitter. Yesterday Amanda Palmer started an informal poll about health insurance looking for an interesting cross section on the issue, and wound up with 2k+ responses from all over the world. She asked for country/job/insured or not/why not and for how much if you are. Eye opening to say the least.

    Our healthcare system is a catastrophic mess. I have no idea what I’m going to do in 2 years when I turn 26 (thanks Obama) and can no longer be covered by my parent’s plan…

    1. It was also a great reminder of the human ability to assume everyone else has the same life experience as them.
      People outside of the US were shocked at how horrible it looked for people here because they assumed everyone has a system similar to theirs.

  11. The really bizarre part of all this is that Romney actually does understand all of this. He even wrote about it in his book, No Apology.

    “After about a year of looking at data — and not making much progress — we had a collective epiphany of sorts, an obvious one, as important observations often are: the people in Massachusetts who didn’t have health insurance were, in fact, already receiving health care. Under federal law, hospitals had to stabilize and treat people who arrived at their emergency rooms with acute conditions. And our state’s hospitals were offering even more assistance than the federal government required. That meant that someone was already paying for the cost of treating people who didn’t have health insurance. If we could get our hands on that money, and therefore redirect it to help the uninsured buy insurance instead and obtain treatment in the way that the vast majority of individuals did — before acute conditions developed — the cost of insuring everyone in the state might not be as expensive as I had feared.”

    I really don’t get this guy. It’s like in the past couple of years, he decided to just shit on everything he’s done before.

    On a personal note, I am self employed, and can finally afford insurance. So, I applied … and was rejected. They said I was rejected because of a pre-existing condition, but the pre-existing condition is relatively minor (sinusitis), and I strongly suspect that they turned me down because I’m transgendered. Regardless of why they declined me, the bottom line is I can’t get insurance. In 2014, this will change (unless the Affordable Care Act is repealed). I get really mad when Republicans say to let the free market work all this out. The free market has decided that I am not worthy of affordable health care. I refuse to accept that. I work, I have never drawn unemployment, or gotten any form of welfare or food stamps or anything. I’m not actually part of the 47%, they just won’t let me play the game.

    1. So sorry to hear that you have to go through all of this BS danimagoo. I have been saying so much about this pre-existing condition that Obama wants to do away with. But republicans want to get rid of it, sounds like they are already siding with the many insurance companies that line their pockets. Did you know that not long ago some of the major insurance companies threw parties for the republican party? Hmmmmm. Romney is so out of touch that it’s scary. How does he not know that the reason why hospitals have to take care of you is because it’s the law. There is a federal law called Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act passed in 1986. What does this mean? Any hospital that receives medicare dollars must treat someone who comes into an emergency room. If it is classified as an emergency, then the hospital is only responsible for stabilizing your condition. They don’t have a duty to treat you after that point or to give ongoing treatment. If they don’t think it’s an emergency then they can turn you away. An example used in the article I read says that if you bring in a baby with a sore throat and fever, the doctor can say that it was not an emergency and send you home. If it turns out to be fast-moving strep, your child could be dead before bed time and the hospital would have no responsability. If it turns out to be cancer, their duty is to stabilize you, after that you are on your own when it comes to pain management, chemo, and any other treatment associated with the cancer. So, I find it funny that Romney does not know this. His idea is that the hospital will treat and take care of you is totally wrong. Being in government, he should have known that. And that money that pays for the “treatment” is money from medicare. It all has to do with medicare money. If you treat someone on medicare and receive money from the government then you are entitled only to stabilize a patient. He should have known that.

  12. As one of the few conservatives on here I don’t agree with Mittens and I don’t agree with Obamacare.

    It’s not that I don’t think the idea of universal coverage isn’t a good one, it’s the fact we are now pulling along the same broken system that has existed for years.  The vast majority of the system sucks, and no one has put forward what I consider a reasonable plan to fix it.

    I don’t have any personal experiences to share, but I was talking to my neighbor a week ago and learned that he had recently been in for surgery.  I inquired what happened.  Well he had some kidney stones so the decided to do a CT….which also revealed some complications from a previous prostate operation and a tumor pressing into his colon.  So preventative is a good idea, but frankly we have the technology to find things before they become real problems.  IMO things like CT and MRI should be free and suggested every 5 years once you hit 30.

    This country put a man on the moon and built an atomic bomb yet we can’t throw some resources/technology at helping everyone live a healthy life.  It’s things like this that make me angry.  Frankly the president, congress, and senate should all be forced to use a medical plan that is representative of the average/majority of plans in America (pre-existing conditions and all).

  13. What Romney also doesn’t say is that indigent is eventually paid for by us either thru taxes, increased health care costs or our charitable gifts.  Somehow these costs need to be taken care of so that everyone can reliably get decent health care.

  14. I love how Romney, thanks to his privileged upbringing, assumes that everyone has access to all the things he has access to.

    “No, you go to the hospital, you get treated, and it’s paid for, you know by dad.. or a magic fountain.. or wherever the heck it is that money comes from.”

    PS: I hope everyone saw this: https://www.google.com/search?q=completely+wrong&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hl=en&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N

Comments are closed.