“Are you going to smile? Are you going to say, ‘My health care sucks’?” Nathan Wilkes asked his son, Thomas, as his photo was snapped at the Capitol last Friday evening during a vigil for those who have died because they lacked insurance. Thomas suffers from severe hemophilia, a blood clotting disorder. He was once covered under his dad’s insurance. But Wilkes, who works in telecommunications design, says that his company’s insurance issued a $1 million cap to kick the family off. Thomas maxed out a few months ago, and since then, the Wilkes have searched for new coverage. The family has thousands of dollars in bills to deal with, not to mention the headache of the illness itself.
Wilkes told his son’s story to the crowd at the Capitol Friday. Though Wilkes hasn’t experienced the tragedy of losing a loved one because they couldn't pay for proper medical care, he issued a warning to the two dozen in attendance. “It’s a life and death struggle not just for those who are sick, but for all of us,” he said. “Who knows when you are going to need health care?”
The vigil was sponsored by Health Care for All Colorado, a group promoting a single-payer system as the state’s 208 Commission considers health care reform. HCAC’s Kristen Hannum organized the event; she became involved in the health care movement after her brother died from a burst appendix. He didn’t have health insurance, and was given antibiotics when he should have undergone life-saving surgery. She details his story on her Ave Cassandra blog.
“The profit motive in health care finance is literally killing millions of people,” said Wilkes at the vigil. “As we remember those whose lives were cut short, let’s remember we don’t have to live like this.”
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
-- Naomi Zeveloff