How the Health Care Crisis Hit Home for My Family

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And how it might hit yours, too:

Like most journalists, I do my best to operate in a comfort zone of detachment. But the subject of my cover story in the upcoming edition of TIME is one about which I won’t claim the slightest bit of objectivity. It is about my brother Patrick. Last summer, he found out his kidneys were failing; a few weeks later, he found out his health insurance wasn’t going to pay for his treatment.

I used to think I was something of an authority on health care; I’ve covered its policy and its politics for 15 years. But when my family took its own trip through the frustrating maze that is this country’s health care system, I discovered how much I had to learn. Health problems are behind half the bankruptcies in this country, and three-quarters of those bankrupt people had health insurance when they got sick. Just about anyone could be one diagnosis away from catastrophe. My editors decided to put this story on the cover not because it is so extraordinary, but because it is so common, and becoming more so every day.

So please read this story. And after you do, go find your health insurance policy and read it, too.

UPDATE: A number of Swampland commenters have suggested that we give our readers a chance to share their own stories. That’s a terrific idea. There’s now a link in the third paragraph of the story where Facebook users can share their own experiences. (You then scroll to the bottom of the page.) It’s not perfect, technologically, but it does give us a way to gather feedback. Please give it a try.