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Not all mistakes are fatal. But when they turn out to be – would you be among those saying, “It was your own dang fault. Serves you right”? Consider a column in the Sunday (10/14/12) New York Times in which Nicholas Kristof chronicled how a friend opted to forgo health insurance coverage during a midlife crisis. Suddenly, at age 51, symptoms surfaced that led him to a Seattle emergency department and the discovery that he had advanced prostate cancer, which had spread to his bones. He was equally consumed by regret.
It was a heart-wrenching story, partly authored by Kristof and partly by his friend, Scott Androes. It touched on numerous hot-button topics in the political world of healthcare.
The day after the Times story was published, the cancer patient died. Kristof, in a subsequent story, said research indicates one American dies every 20 minutes from lack of health insurance. He also wrote of the email vitriol that he received from those “savagely unsympathetic” to his friend’s plight.
Last July, I wrote a blog in this space under the headline: “Sick: Your Own Dang Fault?” I focused on the incivility in public discourse about health reform. Nastiness rules. Unfortunately, a few readers mistakenly thought I was attributing blame, rather than recording what’s posted, sadly, on so very many electronic message boards.
The original Kristof story was headlined: “A Possibly Fatal Mistake.” Given the poisonous tenor of some political and Internet debate, I fear a future article might be titled: “We Shoot Our Wounded.”