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Surprising Science

Going to Prison Just to Get Healthcare

Some in America find their only path to healthcare is to manipulate the system, whether than means always going to emergency room or committing crimes to receive medical attention.

What’s the Latest Development?

Joshua Mezrich, MD and assistant professor of surgery at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, tells the story of a 41 year-old prison inmate who, after being diagnosed with two aneurysms, was released from prison. Because the man was no longer covered by the state’s health insurance, he was suddenly ineligible to receiving life-saving surgery. “Not knowing what else to to, it occurred to him that the easiest way to get the care he needed would be to get back in prison. The next week, he went to a department store and, making sure a security guard saw him, pocketed some moisturizing cream. He looked up at the guard, smiled, and walked out.”

What’s the Big Idea?

After the man was arrested, he stood before a court and passed a note to the judge explaining his desire to return to jail and receive surgery. “I’ll give you 14 months, go get your surgery,” the judge reportedly said. Affordability of insurance in the United States is a serious public health concern. “recent study showed that out of over 2,300 bankruptcy filers in the US in 2007, greater than 60 percent of them were caused at least in part by medical illness.” What’s worse is the stigma put on those who, because of unfortunate life circumstances, cannot afford insurance for themselves. 

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Read it at the Atlantic


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