A great loss

To the editor:

I was deeply saddened by the recent deaths of Jack Stewart and Howard Connors. I have known, admired and respected both since my college days nearly four decades ago. They were men of integrity, character, and the highest of moral values.

When our nation's way of life was threatened, they answered a call to duty and served in the armed forces during World War II. Their life long dedication to marriage, family, religion, career and community were a model for all to follow.

While Jack was successful as a car dealer, Howard excelled as an educator, administrator, athletic coach and official.

Despite their achievements in different areas of life, they knew neither vanity nor pretense. They were just down to earth guys with good common sense who always had time to speak with everyone.

The area was fortunate they made this their home for so many years. We miss you and rest in peace.

Paul S. Michels

North Sioux City

Healthcare reform…on a personal level

To the editor:

Being one of many Americans who are in a financial situation where we are unable to afford health insurance, I live in fear every day that something will happen and I will need medical care.

When a medical crisis hits, you have to make a conscious decision to seek medical treatment and live with the consequences of the financial burden, or just try to survive through it without help.

I worked for Blue Shield of California in the claims department for 18 years, and know the costs associated with medical treatment.

Such an event happened recently, and it drives home the need for America as a whole to do something about the healthcare industry that would give all of us equal access to medical care.

On a beautiful spring morning, as I had just taken out the last loaf of bread that I was baking, a pain hit me in my lower abdominal area that knocked me to my knees in extreme pain.

I was hurting so bad, but in my mind all that I could think of is that I just could not afford to go to the emergency room.

So, I crawled on my knees into the living room, laid down on the couch, and dealt with the pain for over an hour. I hoped and prayed for the pain to just go away, and was scared that it was something serious because it came on so suddenly. I am a healthy woman and this just came out of the blue.

After the time had passed, and the pain was so bad that I could not stand up, I crawled back into the kitchen in order to call my husband who was at work. There was no way I could afford an ambulance. He rushed home to find me screaming in pain on the living room floor.

The whole time I kept saying "we can't afford to go to the hospital," and he told me I was going, and that we would figure out how to pay for it later. Now I had to deal with the guilt as well as the pain and expense.

I spent only four hours in that emergency room. During that time I was given pain medication through an IV, lab work was done, and an ultrasound too. When all the tests came back, they could not actually diagnosis what caused the pain.

So, I was sent home with a prescription for some pain medication, and was told to go see my doctor in a few days (more financial burden).

Although I have to say that the staff was amazing, and I did leave the emergency room pain free, I was not prepared to deal with the financial hardship.

Three days after I was released, I received a call from the hospital's billing department asking me how I was going to pay the $800 bill that had accumulated "so far." We had to discuss financing options to get the bill paid off within six months.

We ended the call with a verbal agreement on monthly payments, and I had resolved to the debt.

But, I was shocked when I received the actual bill, and the account balance was $1,400, and that doesn't even include the cost for the ultrasound that was done! It cost $400 just for the "rental" of the emergency room itself!

How can a person justify a $2,000 (factoring in the ultrasound) debt for a four-hour emergency room visit that did not even result in a diagnosis? This debt will take me three years to pay off.

I am being forced to sell some of my possessions to get it paid off within their time limits.

This is the problem we have with medical care. As a tax-paying American citizen I am angry that the government cannot come up with a solution that will alleviate its citizens from facing these debts just to get medical care.

Why do individuals (especially ones on a fixed income) have to get their own health insurance coverage that will cost an average of $300 per month to most people?

That is $3,600 a year that could help most of us put food on the table, or just to live our daily lives.

So, when Healthcare Reform is mentioned, I am personally hoping that there will be a solution instead of just lip service. Use some of that tax money that is so willingly paid to fight a war, to help take care of those of us that the war is being fought for.

Debra Wolfe


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