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 GoFundMe.com 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.)