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Cary man caught between illness, cost of health insurance

Posted November 11, 2010

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— Don Corne has had severe intestinal problems for weeks, but he cannot afford to see a doctor about it.

Corne, a contractor in the maintenance and operations division of the Wake County Public School System, is among the more than 21 percent of adults in North Carolina who don't have health insurance.

"Here I sit with something that needs to be dealt with or diagnosed, and if you don't have this ticket called insurance or you don't have a lot of money, then you can't find out," he said.

As a contractor, Corne doesn't get insurance through the school district – or the temporary employment agency that placed him in the job.

Don Corne Cary man caught between illness, cost of health insurance

An individual insurance policy is out of reach, he said, and he also doesn't qualify for programs for uninsured people, such as Alliance Medical Ministry in Raleigh or assistance offered through the state Department of Health and Human Services, because of his income level.

"Premiums I've gotten (quotes on) are anywhere from $300 to $400 a month, and that's just so expensive. I can't afford that," he said of individual coverage.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina recently began pitching a "budget-friendly" version of its individual health plan, which officials said could save people up to 38 percent on their monthly premium.

Under the health care reform law, anyone who can afford health insurance must purchase it by 2014 or pay a fee. Tax credits will kick in that year to make it easier for people to buy insurance, and those who cannot afford it might be eligible for an exemption.

Although the law aims to eliminate waste and improve efficiency in the system to help drive down insurance rates, it doesn't help Corne with his current dilemma.

He paid $49 to go to a clinic in Apex, where he was told he needed to see a gastroenterologist for a proper diagnosis. That visit would likely cost about $1,500, he was told.

Instead, he has come up with his own prescription of probiotics and vitamins, and he has started looking for a job that provides health benefits.

"I think what I realize in all of this is my life has a price tag," he said.

22 Comments

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  • james27613 Nov 12, 5:41 p.m.

    Perhaps he can cut back on some of his expenses, like cable tv, internet, cell phone plan, etc.

    I've always had coverage since I started working back in 1975.

    Yes, things are a little different now, however, you got to pay your own way.

    The man is going to need a cat scan, at the very least to find out what the problem(s) is/are with him.

    If he needs insurance coverage, then he should look at another type of work such as retail.

    Self medicating himself is the wrong way to go, too many people kill themselves by doing this.

    Instead, he has come up with his own prescription of probiotics and vitamins, and he has started looking for a job that provides health benefits.

  • james27613 Nov 12, 5:36 p.m.

    I don't know of any MD office where they will see you without getting your copay up front OR your payment in full.

    ........................................................
    Just go to the doctors that you need to and don't pay.

    i would rather deal with collection agencies than be sick and maybe even die.

  • me2you Nov 12, 3:46 p.m.

    cary1969...who said anything about catastrophy. why can't people go out and get health care if they're sick and it be affordable? WHY does it have to be unbelievably expensive?

  • me2you Nov 12, 3:24 p.m.

    jprime..i think the moral of the story is...for many people, including him. $300-$400 isn't there. must be great to live in an ivory tower.

  • jprime Nov 12, 2:50 p.m.

    "I think what I realize in all of this is my life has a price tag"

    And apparently $300-$400 a month is more than he is willing to pay for his life.

  • ncguy Nov 12, 12:49 p.m.

    Yes you can get that catastrophic insurance but the deductable is way out there.

    Just go to the doctors that you need to and don't pay.

    i would rather deal with collection agencies than be sick and maybe even die.

  • cary1969 Nov 12, 12:30 p.m.

    Please...catastrophic insurance at BCBS is $84.82, I know because I've been on it for two years. You can afford insurance if you set your priorities.

  • koala295 Nov 12, 11:34 a.m.

    "Get more financially responsible," "cut expenses," "increase your revenue?" Seriously? That's easy to say, but not always possible. If you are trying every way you can (short of sitting on your behind drawing welfare) to keep your head above water, that's sometimes all you can do especially in this economy. I think I'll go out and get myself taller, and I hope some people will go out and get them some humanity!

  • ohmygosh Nov 12, 11:02 a.m.

    Things have changed so much. In 1966 the company sponsored health premium was $9.33 per month for a family plan. No managed care. The bills were paid. Drugs were covered.

    Of course, this was before big medicine/technology figured out how to drive up costs astronomically. Also it was before big lawyers attacked the system in droves.

    To some extent, one got what they paid for. For example the level of technology: A pregnancy test still required killing a rabbit. If you went to the hospital, chances were 50/50 that you died. Salt was good for you, so were meat and dairy products.

    One problem is the lack of cures. Lifetime treatments for XYZ are bleeding the system and enriching pill suppliers and treatment facilities.

  • melanie3 Nov 12, 10:58 a.m.

    but companies have also been increasingly getting rid of offering benefits like health insurance, they too cannot afford it. Of course, every republican and their supporters fought us tooth and nail in helping sick people and corporations from this continued burden that only we require companies deal with. Every other western nation doesn't. But, it would have made health not as profitable as it used to be so can't have that, the CEO's of health insurance companies convinced us of that. Did you guys pay any attn to how much money BCBSNC gave to Burr? Thank god the GOP is now planning on repealing it.. that'll help the economy and regain jobs..

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