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No insurance a death sentence for some

Mon, 10/15/2012 - 9:29am
Mass Device
Merrill Goozner

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's latest statements on health insurance, delivered to the editorial board of the Columbus Dispatch earlier this week, haven't received enough attention. "We don't have people that become ill, who die in their apartment because they don't have insurance," he said. "We don't have a setting across this country where if you don't have insurance, we just say to you, ‘Tough luck, you're going to die when you have your heart attack.' No, you go to the hospital, you get treated, you get care, and it's paid for, either by charity, the government or by the hospital."

Is Romney wrong? Do people die because they don't have health insurance? Otis Brawley, the chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, opens his stunning new book, "How We Do Harm" with an anecdote about a middle-aged black woman who arrived at Grady Hospital in Atlanta with one of her breasts wrapped in a moist towel. Her untreated breast cancer had advanced to the point where she suffered an "auto-mastectomy."

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