Las Vegas Man's Experience With Health System Shows Best And Worst Of Care

The New York Times reports on one man's struggle with the health care system: "In the debate about health care overhaul, there are countless stories of families saddled with hospital bills and unemployed workers who have lost their insurance. But the story of Eric De La Cruz, of Las Vegas, stands out as a striking example of both the best and the worst that the American health care system has to offer — extraordinary medical prowess that is too often out of reach for all but the luckiest and best insured."

"In his early 20s, Mr. De La Cruz was told he had a disorder called severe dilated cardiomyopathy, in which the heart muscle becomes enlarged and weak." After his diagnosis, he was no longer able to buy private insurance because he had a pre-existing condition. "He twice applied for Social Security disability benefits, which would have entitled him to health coverage under Medicare. The applications were denied. He did eventually qualify for Nevada's Medicaid program, which bases eligibility on financial need rather than age or disability. ... As his condition worsened, it became clear he would need a heart transplant" (Parker-Pope, 8/31).

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