Waldo sat in his recliner, watching television, drinking a bottle of beer, and having a cigarette. This was his norm, his motif, and he was content. Suddenly Waldo felt a little nausea, he wondered if it was the food at the Burger Palace, maybe those extra French fries he had, they were pretty greasy. He reached for his beer but a sharp pain flashed down his left arm. The pain persisted as he became short of breath and his chest began to feel like a heavy weight was pressing against it. Oh my God, Waldo thought, I am having a heart attack. He reached for his cell phone and dialed 911, in gasps he pleaded for help.
At the hospital Waldo poured over required forms while sweating profusely, hunched over with chest pain, his left arm paralyzed. Then he sat there waiting, he could barely breath. He thought, this is it, this is the end of me, I am going to die, right here, right now. A resident came and performed a quick screening of Waldo’s condition and gathered a personal history. The resident left and Waldo waited. In time, a lady with the forms returned.
“I’m sorry sir, she said, “we will not be able to treat you. Your insurance will not cover this condition.”
“No…please…I have coverage,” Waldo gasped, “Please, I need help.”
“Yes sir, you have insurance, but under the new Democare law, your insurance company is not required to pay for self-imposed pathologies.”
“What…what, I don’t understand…there must be a mistake.” Waldo’s speech was halting, he was lying on his side clutching his chest, the gurney was wet with perspiration.
“I am sorry sir, but according to our evaluation, your personal history, and general observation, your condition is clearly self inflicted, the hospital will not be reimbursed for any treatment we might provide,” She sniffed.
“But no…I didn’t do this…I was just sitting there…please, please help me.” Waldo was terrified.
“Well sir, that is most likely the problem, you were ‘just sitting there.’ You are morbidly obese, you consume alcohol on a daily basis, and you smoke a pack of cigarettes a day. These factors indicate that you have actually brought this upon yourself. And under the new Democare law, conditions such as obesity, alcoholism, and smoking-related disorders are not covered.”
“Please…please, I will pay later, by the month…little by little...please help me…” Waldo’s voice was getting weak.
“Well, actually sir our computer did a quick credit check, I’m afraid we can not justify installment payments at this time. Now if you don’t mind we really need this gurney, there is an accident victim coming in.”
Waldo barely made it to his feet and holding on to the wall for support, limped down the hall and out to the parking lot. He let go of his left arm just long enough to light a cigarette. Waldo sat down on a curb and lifted his head toward the stars. He thought that soon he would be among them.