Viewpoint: The health insurance system’s cruel indifference

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My son, Danny, ended his life on April 9. He did it over $20.

This was a $20 premium payment to his health insurer, FidelisCare, that he had missed because his phone had been shut off and he was moving. He never received the notice. When he learned about it, Danny paid the premium immediately, but FidelisCare told him that because it was past the first of the month, his plan would not resume until May.

Danny was on medications for depression. Without insurance, the medications cost $250. Danny could not afford that. Danny had no other choice. If we had Medicare for All — or, for New York state, the New York Health Act (NYHA) — my son would not have had to endure three weeks without his medications.

One of the major side effects of antidepressant withdrawal is suicidal thoughts. Danny was going through a rough time. He had moved back in with me; he was fighting two custody cases at the same time as well as his mental health and, then, FidelisCare.


At 11:20 a.m that day I saw a Facebook post from Danny on Facebook of his last farewell. He wrote that he had super-glued his seat belt shut and decided that life wasn’t for him anymore. He apologized to his two children and drove his truck into the Mohawk River. Without the medications, Danny could not stand the pain.

My son’s tragedy was not an aberration. This bureaucratic heartlessness happens every day in New York and across the nation in a system that values profits over our lives. Looking into the eyes of my other children and his mother filled with tears at Danny’s funeral, I knew that I also wanted to look into the eyes of our lawmakers for them to see the consequences of their putting corporate profits and campaign donations over people. They killed my son, Danny.

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July 30 marked the 54th anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid. These programs were enacted to provide health care for the most vulnerable — the elderly, the disabled, and the poor. If we had Medicare for All, or the NYHA, instead of insurance companies interfering in our health care, my son would have never lost his coverage and his life over $20.

Scott Desnoyers lives in Stillwater.




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