$50 To Live, $50 to Die


Image credit to Ted Closson – @vinegartom – https://thenib.com/a-gofundme-campaign-is-not-health-insurance

Blog by Joe Babaian

Hello #hcldr friends, peers, lurkers, and accidental visitors! You’re all welcome here! I had a blog planned for this last Tuesday of April, but something more important crossed my feed.

A dear friend, #hcldr, and incredible librarian shared a Tweet that rocked my core. You know her as Patricia Anderson @pfanderson – thanks, Patricia! Patricia shared Ted Closson’s (@vinegartom) moving, melancholy, and powerfully personal story of the life and death of his friend, Shane. Please read Ted’s outstanding graphical story here: A GoFundMe Campaign Is Not Health Insurance – My friend died $50 short. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Shane’s story is an all-too-common one in America today: he fell through the cracks of healthcare coverage and was faced with buying insulin at cost to live. You can guess he was a type-1 diabetic, wholly dependent upon insulin for life. We can talk about Shane’s access to healthcare coverage (which he was waiting to kick in), or we can talk about the unconscionable fact that a commonly used and needed lifesaving drug for over 1.5M Americans has become exorbitantly expensive. Insulin isn’t rare, an orphan drug, or recently developed.

Insulin is simply ___ expensive.

Choose your adverb depending on your station and resources in life: somewhat, very, exorbitantly, colorful curse, criminally, justifiably, and so forth. The #insulin4all movement has some thoughts on this question – do check them out.

How did we get here for insulin, many other drugs, healthcare coverage in more than name only, and so many other aspects of our healthcare “system”?


A great discussion of the ethical dilemma medicine is facing with limited health resources and the need for affordable medication and care was written by A Country Doctor, MD on KevinMD.com: Benefit vs. social responsibility: a profound ethical dilemma in medicine today. Thanks to @RasuShrestha for turning me on to this family physician’s writing.

This story matters. You matter. Let’s not let this conversation be a flash on Twitter and then be covered up by the latest news. Talk about this now, create movement and action to push back against the darkness that took Shane’s life for want of $50. We can do this, you can do this, I know it since I have seen what all of you can do. Create, innovate, change, build, tear down – this isn’t about yelling how upset we are – this is about creating a new standard.

Please join us Tuesday, April 24, 2018, at 8:30 pm ET (for your local time click here) as we discuss the following topics:

  1. How should access to a drug that is necessary for life for ~1.5M Americans, such as insulin, be handled? What can we learn from other nations on this?
  2. What do you see as the major impediments to effective change of the current drug pricing paradigm?
  3. Where should our most urgent focus be: medication access, improved healthcare coverage/access, pricing transparency, or?
  4. What action steps should we all be taking right now to get change moving vs just more “talk” about the problem?

Kudos to @GilmerHealthLaw for making a suggestion to Topic 1 and great discussion on this overall issue.


A Country Doctor Writes: Notes from a doctor with a laptop, a housecall bag and a fountain pen. https://acountrydoctorwrites.wordpress.com/

A GoFundMe Campaign Is Not Health Insurance
My friend died $50 short. It doesn’t have to be that way. https://thenib.com/a-gofundme-campaign-is-not-health-insurance

Benefit vs. social responsibility: a profound ethical dilemma in medicine today. https://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2018/04/benefit-vs-social-responsibility-a-profound-ethical-dilemma-in-medicine-today.html

The 2017 National Diabetes Statistics Report is Here. https://www.diabeteseducator.org/news/aade-blog/aade-blog-details/karen-kemmis-pt-dpt-ms-cde-faade/2017/07/26/the-2017-national-diabetes-statistics-report-is-here

National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2017. Estimates of Diabetes and Its Burden in the United States. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pdfs/data/statistics/national-diabetes-statistics-report.pdf


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