I just set up a Facebook page to share stories of losing loved ones simply because they had no health insurance. I want to gather as many stories as possible before the Supreme Court hears arguments about the Affordable Care Act later this month.

I want to pushback against the meme among those that are against the Act that everyone has access to healthcare, as they can just go to the ER. I haven't received a good answer from any of them yet about how the ER would have treated my grandfather's cancer, but then there isn't one.

I started the page by sharing the story of losing my mother when she was 44. My parents had divorced several years earlier and she had no health insurance. She died of a minor stroke because she was afraid to go to the ER and get a big bill. Her story is over the jump.

You or someone you know can share your story at http://www.facebook.com/...

Ruth Blanchard Ewert and children-from left Cindy, Kathy, Bru... on Twitpic

I'll start off this by sharing the story of the death of my mother at the age of 44. She was not obese, smoked, and had high blood pressure. She was pretty healthy overall. But ultimately her fatal problem was her fear of a big bill from the ER, until it was too late and the ambulance took her unconcious form to the ER anyway. I was 25, and had three little sisters aged 23, 17 and 15.

I had just moved here to Utah a few months earlier, right after graduating from college. Somehow I always knew I would end up in the mountains, and had earlier spent the a winter in Sun Valley between high school and college. I had a job at Computerland, a really cool yellow and gray one-piece ski suit, and nothing but optimism looking forward. Plus the Utah State Road Championship was coming up and I figured I had a chance to do pretty good, if I could just keep up with Rogers.

Mom had a part-time job scoring bowling tournaments. I learned later from my sisters that she was saving to come out and visit me. She had a full-time job in an office, but it didn't come with health insurance--the company was too small. And after my parents had divorced several years earlier Mom no longer had coverage under my fathers' excellent state employee program.

A few days before the State Champs race, I received a fateful call from Eau Claire. Mom had been scoring a tournament and had passed out. She had been complaining severe headaches for several hours beforehand, but just took a couple of aspirin and toughed it out. ER visits were expensive even back in 1984. This worked for about 8 hours, and then she got a ride to the ER anyway, in an ambulance.

It turned out that her headache was caused by a small cerebral hemorrhage, and she had waited so long that it turned into a major one. She had a stroke.

She never regained conciousness.

I tried to ride the race I had been so focused on for months, but my head was not into it. I dropped out after a couple of laps and headed home to pack for the airport.

A couple of days later we gathered in Mom's hospital room--my sisters, Dad and I. We looked at Mom lying there with a head half-shaved, connected to many tubes and machines. We listened as the doctor explained she no longer showed any brain activity and her heart was beating only with the help of the machines.

A tough mutual decision was made and we watched as the doctor unplugged her breathing apparatus. It was only a few short minutes before the beep of her heart monitor wavered and stopped. We quietly watched as she slowly turned blue.

The funeral arrangements and funeral itself are pretty much a blur. I think we were all in shock. Soon it was over and it was time for our lives to go on.

There will always be that hole in my heart from missing her. Your Mom has a non-judgemental love that cannot readily be replaced. I miss our lunches, talking things through. I miss her unflagging enthusiasm, telling me I could do whatever I was dreaming of at the time. I'll miss watching her grow old.

I just miss her, really. It was far too early.


Have you or do you know anyone who lost a loved one because they didn't have health insurance?

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