SC man upset he can’t get health insurance after getting sick

Luis lang

When discussing cases such as those of Fort Mill, SC, resident Luis Lang it’s difficult to do so in a dispassionate manner without sounding at least somewhat heartless.


The 49-year-old self-employed handyman, who works with banks and the federal government on maintaining foreclosed properties, has bleeding in his eyes and a partially detached retina caused by diabetes. An area ophthalmologist who examined Lang said he will go blind without care.

Lang, however, has no health insurance. He told the Charlotte Observer that he has prided himself on paying his own medical bills.

Apparently, he’s done well for himself, too. His wife hasn’t had to work and the pair live in a 3,300-square-foot home valued at more than $300,000.

Lang’s pay-as-you-go approach to medical care worked fine while he was healthy, but this past February he suffered through 10 days of nonstop headaches and ended up going to the emergency room.

He told the Observer he was informed that he’d suffered several ministrokes.

Lang ran up $9,000 in bills, exhausted his savings, saw his vision worsen and now he can’t work, he told the Observer.

After consuming his savings, Lang turned to the Affordable Care Act exchange, known colloquially in the US as “Obamacare,” after President Barack Obama, who promoted the concept of a health insurance exchange as a key component of his health care reform initiative.

However, Lang found himself out of luck because 2015 enrollment had closed earlier that month. Also, because Lang is unable to work and his income has dried up, he earns too little to get a federal subsidy to buy a private policy.

Lang isn’t exactly owning up to having played a role in his predicament.

He told the Observer that “he knew the act required him to get coverage, but he chose not to do so. But he thought help would be available in an emergency.”

Uh, that’s not how insurance works. That would be akin to calling State Farm after a tornado has tossed your house all over the next county and being able to sign up for homeowners’ coverage.

It should also be noted that Lang is a smoker who has, “by his own account, been inconsistent in his efforts to control his diabetes.”

Still, Lang and his wife blame President Obama and congressional Democrats for passing a complex and flawed bill.

“(My husband) should be at the front of the line, because he doesn’t work and because he has medical issues,” Mary Lang said last week. “We call it the Not Fair Health Care Act.”

At present, Lang qualifies only for a South Carolina Medicaid plan that covers checkups and family planning. The aged (65 and older), blind and disabled get more extensive coverage. Lang says he hasn’t applied for Social Security disability benefits because “it takes too long.”

Lang launched a in hopes of garnering $30,000 in donations. It generated no donations during the first 24 days, but raised more than $7,000 in the first day after the Observer’s story went online.

Other options not broached in the article include Lang selling his $300,000 house, taking out a second mortgage, his wife getting a job (if that’s possible), or the pair liquidating some of their possessions.

Whatever your thoughts on single-payer health insurance, health insurance in general or President Barack Obama, Luis Lang is in a situation largely of his own making. Unfortunate though it may be, at some point he needs to understand that reality.

(Top: Luis Lang of Fort Mill, SC. Photo credit: Charlotte Observer.)

19 thoughts on “SC man upset he can’t get health insurance after getting sick

  1. Aaaah, gotta love that ‘not my fault, someone fix it for me’ school of thought.

    That said, I’m always amazed that the U.S. health system is so expensive to access and that insurance companies have control. Scary.

    • We do have issues with health care insurance, but, as you said, not taking responsibility for your actions isn’t going to solve any of the problems.

      I especially like the photo of Mr. Lang, complete with a pack of cigarettes in his shirt pocket. Now there’s a man taking charge of his health!

  2. Are you suggesting…..personal responsibility? What a throwback you are, CBC. We are small-business owners. We provide health care insurance for our employees which is, as you can imagine, unbelievably expensive. We do not hire smokers as their inevitable health issues will drive up costs for the rest of us who do take care of ourselves. This guy was playing Russian Roulette with his health and now expects the great social safety net to swoop in under him and save the day.

    • It would be one thing if this fellow had been living paycheck to paycheck all along. But he, from all appearances, did pretty well for himself for a number of years and, as you so aptly put it, opted to take his chances with health insurance.

      What’s unfortunate is that he could have signed up – actually, was required to sign up by law – and still did not do so, and now wants someone else to pick up the tab for his foolishness.

      I don’t wish medical problems on anyone, but this guy makes it really, really hard to be sympathetic.

  3. Given the health insurance system of the U.S. he has certainly been imprudent…..both in not respecting his body and in not signing up for cover as required.

    His quoted belief in paying his own bills sounds as if he has a certain view of personal responsibility….which is fine until disaster strikes and the money runs out.

    But he is in need of medical attention and he should have it.

    Society has many fools in its midst and until folly is a crime (in which case many of those running our society would be in the jug) the foolish and their families cannot be cast aside.

    We have always made provision: in the U.K. by making (compulsory) contributions for state health services and pensions: in France where – when we moved there – we were not eligible to join the health service so took private provision – and boy were we glad that we did when – finally eligible – we saw what joining would cost us.
    In Costa Rica we pay for state health cover and we pay heavy health and pension contributions for those who work for us.

    This man seems to have been seduced by the individualism which seems – to an outsider – to underpin the self evaluation of many in the U.S. culture – feel free to shoot me down in my ignorance.

    But, coming from a different culture, where interdependence is accepted, my ‘righteousness’, his folly, his views, do not allow me to suggest excluding him from healthcare.

    I’ve always considered the five ‘wise’ virgins to have been Tories…. wouldn’t it have been better to run the cutter to the shop to buy a bit more oil and made a spectacular welcome for the bridegroom?

    How the blazes this foolish virgin gets healthcare however, given the system in the U.S., is beyond me!

    • it is your last sentence that is germane, Helen.

      The motivation of the “healthcare” system in the U.S. is not the care of the population’s health.
      It is a money-making machine; one that used to hide that fact. However, now it has enough power that it needs not bother. Everyone knows that mis-managed care is all a giant shell game,

      – Regulatory agency members are drawn from the companies they are supposed to regulate, and vice-versa,
      – FDA staff are drawn from drug company staff and vice-versa,
      – Doctors prescribe those drugs most which provide most side benefits to the doctors for doing so
      – Hospitals charge what they will, willy-nilly, varying in fees thousands upon thousands of dollars for the same procedures
      – Patients with no insurance are charged more for medical procedures than patients with insurance

      Why go on? It is a system designed for massive under-the-table kickback payments, and everyone knows it. The general public is powerless against the huge dollars involved.

    • I just re-read and saw how rude my opening was! My apologies, Helen! I SHOULD have begun:
      Yes, you are right: Even the foolish need protection at times. I am not as liberal as you in this regard, but agree that our system is broken.

      THEN I could have, politely, begun my rant!

    • It seems to me he wants to have his cake and eat it, too, Helen. He lives in a very nice home, apparently decked out quite nicely and his wife doesn’t work (the story didn’t indicate that she was incapable of working).

      It would appear he has already been taxing the US health system by relying on the emergency room for his health care, such as when he had an extended headache, rather than seeing a physician at a private practice. Without insurance he may have figured the emergency room would have been cheaper than a visit to a private physician. Folks who rely on the emergency room as their only line of defense when they have medical issues drive up costs significantly in the US health system.

      I don’t know if he’s been seduced by individualism, because most people who embrace individualism understand that insurance is a prudent measure, and that you’re rolling the dice given the high cost of medical care. On top of that, he flouted the mandated legislation that required him to get health insurance and by his own admission hasn’t taken the best care of his own health.

      I certainly don’t wish blindness or any other medical problems on anyone, but this individual seems to be laying on the chutzpah awful thick by blaming others for his predicament.

      I believe he will get the operation he needs. Whether he learns from the experience remains to be seen.

      • I didn’t take it as rude…..and the point you made echoes how those of us used to state welfare provision regard the U.S. situation. The tragedy is that with an unbridled neo liberal government in the U.K. that wonderful system looks like being dismantled and pushed in the U.S. direction…a pawn in commercial hands.

      • Whoops….the reply should have been to Outlier Babe!

        I do see exactly what you mean….but just wonder if he is a fairly unthinking individual suddenly coming up against the hard place.
        There’s nothing like the bubble bursting to have not very bright individuals baying at the moon.
        Not a likeable characteristic….but he needs treatment all the same.

        I don’t understand the concept of having an annual cut off time for enrolment in Obamacare…that puzzles me… but I trust he will be firmly guided to get himself enrolled in good time for 2016.

        Costa Rica’s healthcare system tightened things up a few years ago…U.S. citizens would come for a ‘holiday’ ‘fall ill’ and have the op they knew they needed free on the CAJA (the state health service).
        Now only residents have an automatic right to CAJA care…but in practice any emergency will be treated before any question of money arises, unlike the U.S. style private hospitals here where money comes before treatment.

      • To be honest, I don’t understand Obamacare, probably because I have insurance through my employer and didn’t need to look into it. I don’t know if the deadline was the carrot used to get people to sign up.

        And while I agree that he should be given medical treatment, I also agree he should be made to pay for it in some manner, even if it’s down the road.

        The bottom line is this individual is really not a very deep thinker, it would seem. How much sympathy does one hope to generate by being a diabetic smoker who doesn’t take particularly good care of themselves, doesn’t bother with insurance, fails to sign up for state-mandated coverage and than blames everyone for himself, all while posing with a pack of cigarettes in his pocket? As I said somewhere else, this guy really knows how to put his best foot forward.

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