It is sad when anybody dies. It is beyond sad when that person dies of something treatable. I do not want to diminish the profound sadness surrounding the death of Kyle Willis of Ohio, but I do want to make sure that a terrible tragedy does not cause people to jump to the wrong conclusions.
If you don’t know, Willis was a 24-year-old man who had lost his job as a fast-food restaurant manager and was working to become a paralegal. He was uninsured when his wisdom tooth began to bother him.
A dentist advised him to have the tooth pulled, but he could not afford to do so. The tooth became badly infected. He went to the emergency room where he was given the same advice and was also given prescriptions for a pain killer and an antibiotic.
News reports say that the pain medicine cost $3, which Willis bought, and the antibiotic cost $27, which he declined to buy.
One important truth that is being overlooked by the Obamacare supporters is that Willis’s local Wal-Mart participates in the $4 generic drug program. He could have gotten any of about a dozen antibitoics for $4. His state also has a program called Rx Ohio, which also helps uninsured and under-insured people get cheaper drugs straight from the manufacturer.
Even if Willis did not know that he could get the antibiotic for a lower price, I can hardly believe that he could not have figured out how to get his hands on $27. A good panhandler can make that much in a couple of hours. Surely somebody among his friends and family could have pooled that much money together for him?
There is other help available in Ohio.
The Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services can help people without insurance learn what their options are. They have a free hotline, so unless they called you themselves, it could not be easier. There are community health centers and free clinics, and there is a free hotline to tell you where the closest one is to your home. Unless somebody from the state actually drives you there, it could not be easier. There are at least seven centers in Ohio that provide free or reduced-cost dental care, including the University Hospital in Cinncinati. The University Hospital has a dental clinic that will take people without insurance, especially those in such dire need as Willis.
Maybe he just didn’t know what options were available to him. That’s horribly sad, if that is the case. I wish that the information had been given to him. Maybe he was too proud to take advantage of the help available. That’s understandable, but also sad. Maybe there are other reasons that Willis did not get his infected truth treated.
The one thing that is obvious from this story is that there already is a system in place to help people like Kyle Willis. The national government can really do no more for him than the state of Ohio and some private businesses are already doing. What we need is more education and information for people who are desperate–so that they can get what they need. What we do not need is Big Brother creating more programs.