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Imagine

Linda Koebner 

“Her vitals are fine,” the nurse told Besarta’s mother during a rare visit to the family’s basement apartment in the Bronx.

Besarta’s mind is also fine–sharp and clear. She asked me to use her real name in this story.

Her twenty-five-year-old face is beautiful and flawless, despite the howls of frustration, rage and pain she directs at her family, at fate and especially at Friedreich’s ataxia, the disease that controls her.

When I

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Saving My Appendix

Andrew T. Gray

The doctor was adamant. “This is America, not Sweden,” he told me. “We operate.” 

How did this happen to me? I wondered, looking at him across the ER exam room. How could I, a healthcare provider, not have insurance? 

I had woken up that morning with a mildly upset stomach. Nonetheless, I’d gone to my job (begun only six weeks earlier) as a physician assistant at a Beverly Hills HIV clinic. I’d seen patients

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A Greater Truth

Nancy Elder

Should someone have to lie to get care? For millions of uninsured Americans, finding a way to receive health care is a challenge. In my practice, I’ve been seeing more and more of the following:

“Where have you been living lately?” I ask my third patient of the morning, a heavy-set, forty-nine-year-old man with dark, weathered skin

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Finding a Way Home

Erin Imler

Preparing to assemble my new bed, I open the wordless instruction manual. The first page shows a picture of a single stick-figure standing there, hands on hips, and sadly regarding a bungled, not-put-together bed; the next image is two happy-looking stick-figures standing with their arms around each others’ shoulders, looking at a successfully constructed bed.
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James and Bob

Paul Rousseau

I think his name was James, but I can’t remember for sure. What I do remember is the day’s heat, the metal cart and a rust-colored dog. 

Like many homeless people, James carried his belongings in a grocery cart–a sort of mobile home for the homeless, but without the protection of a roof, the support of four walls or the security of a front door.

I’d just walked out of the local Safeway

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Halloween Horrors

Paul Gross

One October evening last year, I went to our local pharmacy to pick up a prescription for my daughter. I made sure to bring Cara’s insurance card because my employer had switched us to a new health plan.

I wasn’t sorry about the change. Our prior plan had been operated by incompetents–although they might only have been crooks, I couldn’t be sure–who also managed our flexible spending accounts. These accounts, you may recall,

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A Brush With the Beast

It all begins one Sunday morning when Mrs. Morris, a 75-year-old retiree with a heart condition, trips on her way out of church. She falls flat on the sidewalk, can’t get up, and ends up in our Bronx emergency room. A CT scan shows a pelvic fracture, and she’s admitted to our inpatient team.

When I join the family medicine residents to see Mrs. Morris the following day, she can’t get out of bed. She’s

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