The final strip in the “appendix” story line that ran in Retail over the last 3 weeks was meant as a duel acknowledgment of both the story’s convenient conclusion and the fact that real people aren’t so lucky.
In real life Cooper would default on his payment, the hospital would hand the bill over to a collection agency (at a discounted rate ironically enough), then the collection agency would hound him forever and ruin his credit. But to have Cooper suffer through this problem for an extended period of time would have become tedious and depressing … which is problematic when writing a comic strip intended to make people laugh. The important thing was to bring some attention to the issue, which I’ve hopefully done. No need to sunder poor Coop in the process.
But real people DO go through what Cooper went through every day, and they DON’T have a way out. I was reminded of this in a recent email I received:
“Norm, I just wanted to take a minute and thank you for making a few more people aware of the insurance crisis in America. I read your strip everyday, and laugh even though I don’t work in retail.Ironically enough, my husband was admitted to the hospital on August 23, the same day your strip ran with the statistic on young adults not having medical coverage. My husband and I are both 25. He’s a full time student, and I’m a nanny. There’s no way we can afford medical insurance. My husband had been experiencing leg pain and swelling since June. We figured he pulled something, and since we don’t have insurance, we can’t run to the doctor every time we feel an ache or pain. Well, on Friday the 22nd, he got home from school and his leg was huge, rock hard, and a purple/red color. We figured we couldn’t put it off anymore and would find someway to pay the ER bill.Come to find out, he has a huge, dangerous blood clot in his leg, and several small ones in his lungs. After a 4 day stay at the hospital, they have determined that he has a rare, genetic disorder that causes him to have a low platelet count and coagualtion problems. He has to go on blood thinners for the rest of his life and have his blood checked every month. He’ll always be at a serious risk for deadly blood clots. And to top off all the “good” news, the hospital bill just arrived yesterday – $25,484. That doesn’t even include the doctor’s fees, the specialist’s fees, and all the tests he’s had to have this past week and will have to continue to have.The kicker is the line of questioning we got from every doctor, nurse, pharmacist, everyone that walked into his hospital room; They all wanted to know why we waited so long to come in. When we explained that we don’t have insurance, they gave us a blank stare, and then started lecturing us on how he could have died from this condition and we should always be safe than sorry. They have no idea what it feels like to not be able to see a doctor when you feel horrible from a sore throat, or when you pull a muscle.Anyways, thank you, thank you, thank you, for bringing this issue into the light. Maybe someday, something will be done to take care of everyone in this country, not just the people who can afford it.”~J.S.
If only I could make anyone win a pile of cash. Good luck to you and your husband, J.S.