Nobody sticks up a bank for a single dollar unless he has a particularly compelling reason. Tim Alsip had one: the only way he could afford health care was to get it in jail.
On Friday morning, 50-year-old Alsip walked into a Portland-area Bank of America and calmly handed the teller a note: “This is a hold up. Give me a dollar.” Alsip then took his single dollar bill and sat quietly in the lobby, waiting for police to arrive. According to The Oregonian, he has a history of mental illness, addiction, and dental problems that seem to have gone untreated. Sacrificing his freedom was the price Alsip felt he had to pay to receive medical care.
Alsip is currently homeless and has no past criminal record in the state. He was arrested without incident and charged with second-degree robbery and bail set at $250,000.
The price of health care in the United States has been growing exponentially in the United States over the past 50 years — far faster than average wages, which have been stagnating. For a family of four, health care is now even more expensive than food. Though Obamacare is already leading to a “remarkable slowdown” in health care costs and will help ensure coverage for folks like Alsip that doesn’t involve going to the emergency room or going to jail, there is still a long way to go.
Sadly, Alsip’s story is becoming a common one in modern-day America, as poor, desperate individuals who are unable to afford proper care commit pseudo-crimes because they feel that prison health care is their only option. A North Carolina man in 2011, a New York man in 2012, and an Alabama man in 2013 all committed small thefts with the sole intent of getting arrested and hopefully being able to get well again behind bars.