Uninsured Carson man finds only frustration in quest for medical aid
August 1, 2007
Robert Coyle is 46 years old and – according to his cardiologist – may not live to see 47.
After suffering a minor heart attack earlier this year, Coyle, whose father died at age 45 from a heart attack, was diagnosed with severe blockage in two of his heart’s valves.
Coyle’s doctors said corrective surgery could get him back on his feet within two months, but that’s not going to happen anytime soon.
Coyle, a plumber who worked his trade for more than a decade for a local company which did not provide health insurance, is looking for answers and instead is facing the same questions that plague 47 million Americans without health insurance.
According to the National Coalition on Health Care, 80 percent of the uninsured in this country are native or naturalized. The number of working adults (ages 18-64) with no health coverage has climbed each year since 2000. Now more than 20 percent of workers are uninsured and nearly 1 million workers lost health insurance in 2006 alone.
Coyle, who owns a home here with his fiancee Tracy Myser, is part of a growing number of Americans who traditionally have had access to health care.
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Forty percent of American households defined as a middle-income bracket (earning $50,000 or more) are uninsured because their employers don’t offer it, or the employees can’t afford it even when it is offered.
In Nevada, the outlook continues to worsen for those who are uninsured, one expert said.
“The uninsured situation is of great concern to us as more pressure gets put on Medicaid,” said Charles Perry, executive director of the Nevada Healthcare Association. “Every state is really struggling with how it’s going to carry their share of the burden to cover the cost of Medicaid. It’s taking more and more of the budget.”
Because there is no state income tax in Nevada, imminent reform looks like a long-shot, Perry said.
“Without a state income tax, there is little Nevada can do to help facilitate people buying their own coverage,” he said. “I’m not advocating we lift the constitutional prohibition against an income tax at all. But the state of Nevada does have some fairly strict limitations on what it can do.
“If you don’t have a tax, you can’t give a tax credit. That’s how government goes about things like that with respect to health care; they give individuals and employers incentives to invest in these type of things.”
With no insurance and no word from Medicaid, Coyle and his fiancee are forced to improvise – and wait.
“We’ve gone to the lady who helped him fill out the paper for Medicaid; I know that’s a lengthy application process – so we’re stuck,” Myser said. “Why can’t these doctors put him in the hospital knowing that they’re going to get Medicaid or disability?”
To pay for the two heart surgeries required to get Coyle back on his feet, the couple has taken matters into their own hands by asking local businesses and patrons for a helping hand.
“We typed up a little thing that says: ‘We’ve opened an account at Citibank in downtown Carson. Robert Coyle, a valley resident since 1996, has recently been diagnosed with heart problems. Without open-heart surgery his life is threatened to say the least,'” Myser said. “I just don’t know – it’s really depressing. Time is of the essence. We went from business to business (July 31) for about six hours and there’s no money in the account. There just seems like sometimes there’s no hope. We hate to do this, but what choice do we have?”