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. Debby

    There is insurance by the state if your eligible.

    July 24, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  2. Thomas, Missoula, MT

    My 6 years of chemo has nearly cost us our home in spite of Blue Cross/Blue Shield coverage which amounts to pretty much a discount. ONE dose (2.0 ml) of ONE of my chemo meds cost $6200.00! I had to have that for 5 straight days every 28 days for a year. We have nearly paid off our medical bills, but at the cost of falling behind in our mortgage. Don't even get me started on Wells Fargo's Loan Modification program!

    In our society unless you are wealthy, you must be reduced to poverty before you can have comprehensive health care. We do not have a health care system, we have an illness management system. It is not in the best financial interest of the pharmaceutical and insurance companies and the AMA for us to be well!

    July 24, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  3. William

    Like a lot of young people he chose not to purchase health insurance because he was "too young and seemingly healthy to think he needed it." That was not a wise decision. Without insurance you run the risk of high medical bills. I agree that we need to find ways to make insurance more affordable, but we also should mandate that everyone have insurance (even if it means that people have to forgo some things to pay for it).

    July 24, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  4. Joshua College Station Texas

    I am a grad student here in Texas. I have a pitiful health insurance plan through the university, but my research assistantship ends in August and I will have no more insurance (though I am required to, so I will have to pay for it myself, despite having no job). I also cannot afford to provide insurance for my wife who is a new immigrant and cannot yet legally work.

    For all their tax conservatism and state pride, this state does not take care of its own citizens. We are left high and dry to fend for ourselves. Where is the pride and glory in that, deep in the heart of Texas?

    July 24, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  5. Cerena in PSL

    Why won't the MSM put more of these stories out....the way they allow every person who opposes the public option plan to spurt their displeasure you would think that everyone in America had health care, was happy and living a wonderful healthy life!

    July 24, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  6. barbara

    Im sorry I dont get it. Is this man RECEIVING MEDICAL CARE? YES! Is he being turned away? NO! Will he have to pay as much as he can afford? Yes because ALL hospitals and clinics require that each and every citizen attempt to pay something for the care they receive. Not to fear though because this man will now receive a disability check for the rest of his life and THAT will cost the taxpayer a helluva lot more than the medical care he has received thus far. The upside to it is that he will also then qualify for medicaid (free medical insurance for the poor). At 23 years of age he probably didnt pay but a little into the soc sec system but will receive free medical care and disability checks for the rest of his life. Sad that he is ill.

    July 24, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  7. Donna A. Reuter, Bremerton, WA

    The Republicans in Congress wants to see American citizen (who pay for their health care benefits) to die. The GOP are calloused, cold hearted/blooded, and cruel. They are not pro-life at all.

    July 24, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  8. Nan

    So, it is our fault that this young man was "too young and too healthy to think he needed it?" That is the problem. Many of those who voted for Obama are the young, who think they are invincible. In our society, we don't seem to think that anyone should have personal responsibility until they are in their 30's or 40's. It used to be that being 18 made you an adult. This young man was 23 and in school. Almost every college offers a student health insurance plan (for a very reasonable price) to students who are no longer covered under their parents' policies. Yet, it becomes a sob story when a young person decides not to spend their money on health insurance (which every here seems to think is a necessity). Thus, the government should provide it and force them to pay for it (or, force someone else to pay for it). Young people need to learn that their are consequences to their actions (or inactions). Millions of those who are uninsured are the young. They choose to spend their money elsewhere. Their coverage would be the least expensive of anyone. Yet, it is my problem that they make bad choices?

    July 24, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  9. Joy

    Congress has Free health care and we pay for it, YET, the Republicans has continued to vote against any bills that contain affordable Health care for us. They are being payed off by the insurance company, so whose side are they on?????????

    July 24, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  10. J.C.

    Illegal workers' employers should take complete responsibility for these workers, not the taxpayers. There should be law that specifies severe penalties for not caring for these illegal immigrants.

    July 24, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  11. Predicta

    Expand Medicare and medicaid and give these people a public option. It could be paid for by a limit on jury awards for malpractice and limiting emergency room visits to ONLY emergencies.

    July 24, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  12. TCM

    @ DUTCH – and all who think Obama has the answer...

    What a twist of words; republicans aren't against someone receiving healthcare, they're against the reckless spending and socialist controlling measures of Obama, Pelosi, Reid and Waxman. These idiots cannot manage healthcare, and for anyone to think they can provide quality healthcare with a cap on price are living in a dream world. Yeah, there are a lot of sad stories...but there are 10x more sad stories from the UK and Canada merely from people WAITING for care, or they don't fit the government created PROFILE...so, while this guy is sitting there...getting healthcare....on our nickel....why would we want to further indebt ourselves in a system that have proven to be a failure? How many Americans do we see running to Canada or the UK because it's taking too long, or they can't be seen because of government red tape? NONE....but, that's what the government wants to create here....

    The problem is liberals want, want, want...and want it now...without digesting what the long term ramifications will be; especially with cost. OBama has conveniently dodged the issue of TORT REFORM...which is what drives up health insurance cost, making it unreachable for many.

    No, we have some of the best, if not the best healthcare in the world; people flock here everyday to get it; especially illegals getting it for free. So, we don't need to allow the government to interfere. People that support Obama, and his policies are uneducated to a point where is frightening.

    July 24, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  13. barbara

    why tear down the entire house when all you need to do is make a few repairs? The only problem with our system of health care is the cost. best way to tackle that problem is to regulate the price of medical services. No one is ever denied health care in this country whether they are here legally or not. People from all over the world come here to get the best care. tearing down the entire system so that 20 million can have ACCESS to AFFORDABLE care is beyond stupid. Fact is that those who are not insured CHOOSE not to be. If there is a will there is a way. The republicans DO have two plans out there,...the dems wont let anyone hear them though. btw, congress took a roll call vote and ALL dems voted AGAINST having to participate themselves in a nationalized system. go figure.

    July 24, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  14. JGB

    He won't have to pay, he has nothing and they will pass the cost on to others, just like the illegals.

    July 24, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  15. Right

    This is exactly why health care reform is urgently needed in this country. In mine (France) this patient would be taken care of, immediately and not at prohibitive cost. The difference is that in France health care is a right, not a privilege.

    July 24, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  16. 60's survivor

    wake up America. our people need health care now. time to grow up. take care of our own. Obama is listening. he wants to get it done. my brother has an $8000 hospital bill no health care no job. he is sick mentally and physically. he is 58 years old. we can only do so much. we are struggling too and fortunately have health insurance. something needs to be done. Obama ain't lying. we need help now!!

    July 24, 2009 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  17. should we just let people die?

    If we can't take advantage of the medical technology and skill with out destroying our lives (economically and otherwise) maybe it is just better to let people die naturally of the disease they have and not try to sell the medical as something that can help.

    It appears now that it can only help the select few that can afford it, dying a natural death is becoming more attractive everyday that healthcare becomes less available (meaning not trying to use medicines etc and whatever course your body goes in let it continue in)

    And there is the Kevorkian debate as well

    July 24, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  18. cedgar

    He is getting medical care that is was is important.
    I have two son's one is to old for our insurance, so we pay (he is still
    in school 300.00 a month it is high because he has had several surgeries)
    This is all about what you choose to do and personal responsibility.
    Please stop trying to say it is any thing else.
    You as a adult must set your priorities and live with the consequences.
    Life is about choices and no one ever said life was fair.
    I wish this young man well, he will be in my prayers.

    July 24, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  19. betty in Arizona

    Health insurance should be for all Americans, not just the rich. All Americans are hard working people, who watch more money leave their take home pay. I will not be voting for anyone who turns their back on this over haul of our health care.

    The Congress as it stands now are the exact same people who were in when Clinton tried to get his health care reform enacted and they said NO. Time to vote out the naysayers folks. They have out lived their stay, and as long as you have the same old people in there, nothing that benefits the middle class will ever happen.

    I am a Democrat, but it is time for Bryd and Kennedy to go away. They have overstayed their welcome. When they have to be wheeled in in wheel chairs and told how to vote, TIME TO GO. Term limits.

    July 24, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  20. Hotdog

    The amount of money that is being spent in these winless wars could be seed money to fund health care reform and other domestic programs here in this country.

    July 24, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  21. weneedachange

    Can I ask someone out there to explain something to me. I had brain surgery 3 years ago. Now I work for the government and is covered by a very good insurance company. My surgery only cost $85,000. This did not include my pre doctor visit or my post doctor visit. Now my question is this, If lets say a person who can not pay for private insurance like Joe the Plummer or Charlie the contractor or one of thier children fell out in the street, and then rushed into the nearest hospital for emergency brain surgery, WHO WOULD PAY FOR IT? Wouldn't the tax payer ? The same people whining about the President's health care plan. Maybe I'm wrong. Just walk into the nearest emergency room. I would bet that half of those people are without insurance and will not be turned away. God Please bless and look over this young man. Help him and all the ohers without health care

    July 24, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  22. Steve (the real one)

    1. Sad story and one that is repeated all over, BUT is a government controlled program the answer?

    @Dutch, stop the propaganda. Pelosi was against a public option before she was for one. Can you even admit there are problems with this bill amoung the democratic ranks or is it more palatable for you to ignore that fact and rather just solely blame the GOP (WHO AS A BLOC DON"T HAVE THIS VOTES to stop this)?

    July 24, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  23. Christina

    Well, that's the risk he assumed when he didn't maintain health coverage. If he was enrolled in college, there would have been easy access to insurance at minimal cost to him.

    July 24, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  24. Dan

    He had no insurance and was still getting treatment. Sounds like he is covered. Wake up people, let's go with reform and not a government mandated welfare medical solution.

    July 24, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  25. LLM in MD

    WE ARE OVER DUE FOR A PUBLIC OPTION!! I STAND WITH YOUR MR. PRESIDENT!! At lease you are attempting to fullfil your promise to help those who need care. I HATE hearing republicans say we have the BEST in the world–this doesn't mean it's the BEST!!

    July 24, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
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