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Home > Topics > Legislation & Funding

Uninsured man chooses death over expense of ambulance

He told a friend he was afraid to call 911 because of how much it would cost

By EMS1 Staff

NORMAN, Okla. — Days before he died, an Oklahoma man told his neighbor he was having trouble breathing, but didn’t want to call 911 because he didn’t have insurance, and was afraid of how much it would cost.

“I feel so responsible because I would have called 911,” the neighbor, Lori, told NewsOK.

She lived next door to Allen, 53, for about six months, and the two became friends that talked about books and movies. He confided in her that he had been trouble breathing and complained of pain in his left arm.

“Why didn’t you call 911?” she asked.

“I don’t have insurance,” he said.

Lori tried to convince him it didn’t matter, and that he should call for help.

“If I die, I die,” he said.

She became concerned when she didn’t hear from for a few days soon after, and he didn’t answer the door.

Allen died alone in his apartment.

The last phone call he made was to Lori, probably to tell her he didn’t feel well, she said.

The comments below are member-generated and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of or its staff. If you cannot see comments, try disabling privacy and ad blocking plugins in your browser. All comments must comply with our Member Commenting Policy.
Larry Davis Larry Davis Thursday, June 05, 2014 10:19:00 AM This is heartbreaking. He died alone, young, and unnecessarily. Damn.
Lori Jean Lynk Lori Jean Lynk Thursday, June 05, 2014 2:21:07 PM My heart breaks for this man. He died alone and sad. He was afraid to call 911 because he couldn't afford the bills that would come in. It is ridiculous that this has to happen in this day and age.
Ben Forsythe Ben Forsythe Thursday, June 05, 2014 7:39:47 PM Truth be told I'd probably do the same thing. Just can't afford it.
Ivette Fernandez Ivette Fernandez Thursday, June 05, 2014 8:10:17 PM This is very sad. Had he been my neighbor I would have convinced him to go to the hospital and I would have helped him pay his bills.
Lars Jørgensen Lars Jørgensen Friday, June 06, 2014 11:33:52 AM Wow sad! Im lucky to live in a country with free healthcare.
Anne Rasmussen Anne Rasmussen Friday, June 06, 2014 12:38:27 PM Fine, he can't afford 911; but how about his neighbor (who now feels so bad NOW) DRIVING HIM to the ER to help him?? As for the ER & ICU & other Hospital bills... Many hospitals eat the cost if the patient can't pay. Life means more than money; in my book!! If this had been my neighbor & he seemed well enough to be taken by personal vehicle... I'd do it that way! But if I didn't feel comfortable transporting... I would call 911 myself & let my friend to "fight it out with with the Paramedics &/or Medical Director over the radio!) Maybe if the neighbor saw proof (EKG strip of their heart vs a nomal heart (one of EMS crews EKG) then have them compare them & how different the look.. while waiting a Medical Control to come to the phone/radio) just a few thoughts I got while reading this story!! )
Mikaela Cohen Mikaela Cohen Friday, June 06, 2014 12:39:22 PM Many places bill for sign-offs and refusals as well.
FatCat Anna FatCat Anna Friday, June 06, 2014 12:40:48 PM Sad :(
Mikaela Cohen Mikaela Cohen Friday, June 06, 2014 12:42:49 PM Just want to add that the ambulance bill here probably wasn't the sole factor. If he was unable to afford an ambulance, he likely was unable to afford treatment at the hospital as well. It is a sad state of affairs, the ability to afford and access treatment in our country.
DeLaine Gray DeLaine Gray Monday, June 09, 2014 5:36:59 PM The worst part of EMS is asking for insurance info. I know several people right now that are in the same boat and would refuse treatment if Medics were called. Our health system stinks.
Tina Post Tina Post Monday, June 09, 2014 7:05:38 PM not much of a friend! She should have made the call or driven him to ER herself

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