POLITICS

Obama's Insurance Stories: "For-Profit Health Care Killed My Wife"

Jul 30, 2009 | Updated May 25, 2011

People across the United States are sharing their personal stories with Barack Obama's repurposed campaign arm, Organizing For America, to tell the world about the failures of the U.S. health care system. Some people say they would almost rather die than deal with it.

Joan in Washington, D.C. wrote that she fears she and her husband will be homeless if he can't find a job, and that she is "uninsurable" because of cancer.

"Maybe I should wish for the cancer to kill me sooner -- it might be a better option," Joan wrote. "I am terrified."

Jackie in Logan, N.D., wrote that she cried when she was hospitalized in January out of fear for the bills -- even though she has health insurance.

"I told my husband that perhaps I should just go home and wait to die," Jackie wrote, "as it would be cheaper to be cremated, than to have to exist dealing with the debt of surviving."

Brad of Granite City, IL, wrote that "I may die any day because Health Insurance isn't available to me."

"For profit healthcare killed my wife," wrote John of Nashville, Tenn.

These notes are just a few of "hundreds of thousands" of stories submitted, according to an official with Organizing for America. The site, called "Health Care Stories for America," was launched last week as a counterbalance to claims that the administration's agenda for health care reform will create a government-run bureaucracy that will make you wait in line for a doctor. As many of the stories on the OFA site demonstrate, the current system kind of sucks already.

Some of the most compelling stories make it to the front when other users "amplify" a story. The more popular stories are subject to vetting by OFA. If something is found to be bogus, it gets taken down. A story will fall off the site if it's flagged as "inappropriate" by three or more people.

On Monday, a post titled "MAULED BY A BEAR THEN MAULED BY BLUE CROSS" disappeared from the site. The anecdote, apparently by well-known bear attack victim Allena Hansen, said it was easier to survive the mauling than to get decent medical care from her insurer.

An OFA official said the item was probably flagged by users, noting that there is no shortage of stories on the site bashing specific companies like Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Many of the anecdotes are very simple. Paul from Saint Helena, Calif. wrote nothing other than that his "daughter almost severed her finger off when she was 1 year old and the bills I incurred that incident kept me broke for a long time."

And there are several messages like this one, from "teringo" of D.C.:

i dont have health insurance

Sahil Kapur contributed to this report.

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