There’s a lot of waste in our health care system, but providing basic coverage and basic services to people who don’t have it adds a lot of value:
A 24-year-old Cincinnati father died from a tooth infection this week because he couldn’t afford his medication, offering a sobering reminder of the importance of oral health and the number of people without access to dental or health care.
According to NBC affiliate WLWT, Kyle Willis’ wisdom tooth started hurting two weeks ago. When dentists told him it needed to be pulled, he decided to forgo the procedure, because he was unemployed and had no health insurance.
When his face started swelling and his head began to ache, Willis went to the emergency room, where he received prescriptions for antibiotics and pain medications. Willis couldn’t afford both, so he chose the pain medications.
The tooth infection spread, causing his brain to swell. He died Tuesday.
Now, clearly, this man made some sub-optimal choices here he’s not purely a victim of lack of health insurance. At the same time you have right before you a no-longer-living, no-longer-breathing example of the “push the patient to the edge of financial desperation” theory of health care cost controls. It turns out that the quality of a frightened, pain-wracked young man asked to make technical medical decisions under severe financial constraints is not very high. The social cost of 24 year-old fathers dying of eminently treatable tooth infections, by contrast, is gigantic.