July 24th, 2009
12:23 PM ET
11 years ago

King: Uninsured 23-year-old battles leukemia, medical bills

 A nurse takes blood from Gregory Rose, who has leukemia.

A nurse takes blood from Gregory Rose, who has leukemia.

ARLINGTON, Texas (CNN) - To begin with, Gregory Rose didn't have health insurance. Plus, it was finals week. So his first instinct was to ignore the pain.

A walk across his apartment convinced him otherwise.

"My hip was like on fire, grinding" is how he recalled the morning seven months ago that changed everything. "I know pain, and I've never felt that kind of pain before," Rose said.

At the hospital, a blood test with startling results: a dramatically elevated white blood cell count. He had leukemia, at 23.

Rose had no health insurance because he was too old to be covered on his parents' policy and too young and seemingly healthy to think he needed it.

So count Rose among the estimated 47 million Americans who lack health insurance, and as a resident of a state with the highest percentage of uninsured: Nearly one in four Texans do not have health coverage.

Full story

Filed under: Health care • State of the Union
soundoff (83 Responses)
  1. Brendan

    If only he lived in a country where health care was free, like nearly every other western nation on the planet. Dont be fooled by all the negative and false advertising surrounding the canadian health care systerm. It is only being attacked because in canada there are no large private insurance companies that contribute large amounts of money to politiciansm, if you went to a canadian system they wouldn't exist.

    Also government doesnt' control care in canada, the doctors decide on the treatment then bill the government for the costs. The government does not decide what care is acceptable or not. Yes elective procedures take longer, sometimes. You might have to wait a month or two to have something done, but at least you dont have to mortgage your house.

    Imagine the peace of mind going to see a doctor or going to the hospital knowing you wont have to pay a dime.

    July 24, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  2. scooter

    to old for Mom & pop to take care off, but to what to get a job? its the gamble you take. I have god (or whatever) bless iam healthy, But for years (almost 30) I have still had to get my insurance and never taken out anything but a check-up. THis still does not show me why its a good idea. it does just show me once again how todays youg think we are just suppose to pay for everthing and everyone.. taking the idea of free-world to a whole new level

    July 24, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  3. dg

    obama too quick to judge when he does not know the facts, just like the health scare bill, hasnt even read it but hes trying to convince us it will work, well he does not have my vote

    July 24, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  4. alvino

    It will interesting to see if the republicans cash in on saying "No!" to health care reform in the mid year elections like they did in 1994.

    Let's hope that the voters have had enough of the GOP crap.

    July 24, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  5. faithful democrat/jacksonville

    I will be watching the day when it's voting time for this bill and every senator that vote against this bill; will regret it. When election time comes again, the voters will hold the power to their seat(s). It's time to pass this bill and help the people who are not insured. I am not proud of the way congress is handling this matter. The country was already in debt before and during the Bush administration. And when Bush was in office; did he at least try to pass a health care bill? President Obama will not be the fault or blame if this bill does not pass. So congress want to wait until a larger number of people die, then they'll do something. Shame, Shame, Shame on congress. 🙂

    July 24, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  6. doug/texas

    I worked 60 hours/week for 60 years to get rich and have insurance in my old age. In Texas, No ONE is ever refused treatment at a hospital. Like the illegals swamping our FREE system, just go to the emergency ward and wait your turn. You WILL be treated, for FREE! All you whimpering freeloaders get a life or better still, get a JOB.

    July 24, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  7. donald

    This is a sad story and I am mad as hell that we can not force these nut jobs to act on needed life substaining items. Mr. Rose is in my prayers and I know that the God I serve will bring him through.

    July 24, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  8. pet

    This is one for Medicaid or medicare. That is why it is there. So why is he not using that. Oh probably to much paper work

    July 24, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  9. niyi

    i had no problem with the debate, but what i have a problem with are the republicans who are acting like this isnt a crissis. it is a crissis. 47 million americans without health insurance in the most powerful country in the world is shameful and all they want to do is Bash everything the president tries to do to resolve this. Until the day i leave this world i would never vote republican, because they dont care about people, all they care about is getting votes and for the rich. Now can you imagine his bills and can you imagine if he doesnt pay them, or say 10 million un-insured Americans dont pay their bills. Well we with insurance has to foot the bills and that why a guy like me who the last time i went to the Hospital for a serious treatment, apart from my regular check up was 15 years ago, but my premuims keeps climbing every year. This is sad and i hope those fossils will wake up and get something done.

    July 24, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  10. Kyle

    This is sad. I hope our Senators and Congressmen who are working for Heathcare Reform take notice. Oops, they're all on vacation.

    July 24, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  11. Peggy

    There is a large portion of the 47 million uninsured Americans that choose to be uninsured. Mr. Rose is one of them. He should not have assumed that because he was "young and seemingly healthy" that he did not need to insure himself. I am sorry he has leukemia. I am sure he did not choose to have this disease. However, it was his own choice to not insure himself. Read the full article. It does not state that he could not afford insurance or that he even tried to seek government assistance prior to becoming ill.

    July 24, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  12. Jessica

    Healthcare is for the rich only. As for the rest of us , God bless one and all.

    July 24, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  13. Sick Dude

    I never understood why healthcare had to be "for profit" anyway. Between everyone making sure that their profits are taken care of, what is left for the care that we buy?

    Republican fear mungering about people getting their care rationed is just hypocritical. Doctors, HMOs, insurance companies and lawyers have already limited care for hundreds of thousands. Keep the plan we have today and they keep their profits.

    And for all the people that say the government can't run anything? Hummm, do they not run the schools, medicare, DOD, Social Security, DMV, police, etc? I never saw a DMV take down billions of Wall Street dollars like AIG.

    July 24, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  14. turner

    This is horrible reporting.

    Let's address the facts:

    The patient HAD insurance– Medicaid. The hospital got it for him.

    This would have covered all of his chemo, prescriptions, and often a stem cell transplant at MD Anderson.

    Some idiot social worker signed him up for social security to get him some extra money, and that disqualified him for Medicaid.

    This happens ALL THE TIME because moron social workers screw up this simple concept– they knock people OFF Medicaid and essentially screw them over.

    A simple review of the facts would show this patient had several options– the Texas High Risk Pool, Medicaid, the JPS plan mentioned here, etc.

    Our system is far from perfect, but people who are responsible and do their dilligence get coverage from a myriad of ways without much headache.

    He sounds like he didn't take initiative in his care, and got horrible advice from a social worker.

    What do you bleeding hearts think half of the health care "reform" bill in the House right now does- it forces millions more people onto Medicaid like this patient, and that's exactly where he would fall in the Kennedy/Dodd plan.

    Same outcome exactly.

    July 24, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  15. Fort Lauderdale

    We got a letter from BC/BS at the office earlier this year that they are covering dependents up to 35 if they are students. The Rose's need to investigate that. Also, can't he apply for Medicaid and SSI? He is disabled.

    July 24, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |

    I work for the city of Houston and I have excellent insurance, however I still believe that we need health care reform. Everyone and I mean everyone deserves decent health care.

    July 24, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  17. Darko

    Health Insurance wouldn't have prevented his disease....

    If he's a student, his parent's policy should cover him until age 24...

    There are plenty of places that give treatment pro bono.

    Regardless, this anecdotal evidence is no reason think that Obama's healthcare plan is the right bill to pass. Something IS NOT always better than nothing. There are other options, but Obama and Pelosi won't even allow them to make it to committee. Remind me, who's the party of 'NO'???

    July 24, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    "Rose had no health insurance because he was too old to be covered on his parents' policy and too young and seemingly healthy to think he needed it."

    So he chose not to have health insurance because he didn't think he needed it......once again not a true portrayal of the "47 miliion" americans without health insurance.

    July 24, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  19. April in Texas

    My husband is in the same situation. We live in Texas and he was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. We started to receive medicaid but now due to the laws as they are written he will need to wait 2 years for medicare and in the meantime have no healthcare. It is like they expect the illnesses to stay on hold which is impossible. People will die befire they get medicare and one would have to be wealthy to afford health care with a pre-condition. This needs to be fixed as it is life or death.

    July 24, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  20. Claire

    "Rose had no health insurance because he was too old to be covered on his parents' policy and too young and seemingly healthy to think he needed it."

    I will say a prayer for Mr. Rose, and I wish him well. But the quote above indicates that he made a conscious choice to not obtain his own coverage. It does not mean that it was not accessible to him. Most colleges offer medical assistance to students, and need to opt out if they don't wish to pay for the assistance. I wonder if that is what Mr. Rose chose to do.

    July 24, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  21. Republican

    Medicaid? What does it take for a 23 year old student to get on Medicaid? That is where the reforms need to start as well as with Medicare. Clean up the fraud, waste, and abuse in those and get them solvent than we can move on to other parts of the best medical system in the world.

    July 24, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  22. Lauren

    This is why we need health care reform, I bet there are thousands of people out there in this same situation.

    July 24, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  23. yuri

    Let SC Sen. Jim DeMint, Boehner, Cantor, and McConnel read this and other similar stories. We believe these guys are not human beings, but hard-hearted neanderthals, nay-sayin' for anything related to heathcare reform. First of all these goons should go to some kind of reform or remedial schools for discipline and good behaviors.

    July 24, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  24. doug

    For all you who are wanting the gov. to provide healthcare for you, you are in the minority. 53% of American don't want gov. run healthcare. I also bet you don't know that out of the 45 million uninsured, 16 million are uninsured voluntarily, and 10 million are illegal aliens. Only about 10% of the total, LEGAL population is uninsured. That means for the 10% that are not insured and who want gov. run insurance, the other 90% is going to have this FORCED on them. That does not sound like a democracy to me? Sounds like the birth pangs of socialism. Besides these numbers, the CBO told the congress their healthcare bill is going to cost MORE, not less, over the years to follow, and yet this congress and pres. are acting in arrogance still trying to pass this garbage. Not even your own democrats want this to pass. This congress is slowly being divided amongst themselves and is heading for an internal implosion.

    July 24, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  25. Zero.

    What it tells me! Is if Fast Food outlets are having trouble paying their staff. Then it is the product they sell, that pays the price and deteriates..
    They cut back on ingrediants. You get more Junk in your food..

    July 24, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
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