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The American health care system is broken, and there are few better illustrations of this than the story of Drew Calver, a high school teacher and swim coach from Austin, Texas, who suffered an unexpected heart attack and found himself $109,000 in debt because of it.


Calver, an avid swimmer at 44, was in his bedroom when chest pains forced him to the ground. He used his phone's voice recognition feature to text his wife and before long he was being treated at St. David's Medical Center.

On his hospital bed, his life in jeopardy, Calver had an important question for his doctors: will health insurance cover this? Every single day, countless Americans in life-threatening situations find themselves terrified of the answer to that question, because they know that, if their affliction happens to fall outside the limitations of their coverage, they'll be saddled with massive debts.

The hospital told Calver not to worry; they would accept his insurance. Doctors implanted stents in his clogged "widow-maker" artery.

NPR reports that before long, however, Calver's worst fears were realized when he received his bill:

$164,941 for a four-day hospital stay, including $42,944 for four stents and $10,920 for room charges. Calver's insurer paid $55,840. The hospital billed Calver for the unpaid balance of $108,951.31.

On June 26, the hospital sent a warning to Calver, saying it was his "FINAL opportunity" to pay his bill. Calver didn't know what to do:

They're going to give me another heart attack stressing over this bill. I can't pay this bill on my teacher salary, and I don't want this to go to a debt collector.

Though he didn't know it at the time, Calver was the victim of two predatory billing practices: surprise bills and balance billing.

Surprise bills occur when you receive medical attention at a hospital covered by your insurance, but the doctor who ends up treating you isn't a participant in your insurance network, rendering your plan invalid. Surprise! Other times, the hospital and insurance company will disagree on what a reasonable cost for a procedure might be, as was the case with Calver's operation. When this happens, hospitals charge patients for the difference, or the balance.


Several states, including Texas, have laws against these practices, but hospitals were able to use them in Calver's case because of a huge loophole: employers that are self-insured, like the school Calver teaches at, are governed by federal law, which means state protections do not apply. About 60% of people work at self-insured companies, according to NPR.

Cases such as these are considered especially unjust by many in the medical payment industry because patients experiencing life-threatening emergencies often have very little say in where they're taken for treatment. When it appears a patient will not be covered by insurance, efforts are sometimes made to have them transferred to an in-network hospital as soon as possible, but St. David's said:

However, this is not always possible because the patient's health must come first.

After NPR and Kaiser Health News covered Calver's story, the hospital contacted:

Shortly after this story by Kaiser Health News and NPR was published and broadcast on Monday, St. David's said it was now willing to accept $782.29 to resolve the $108,951 balance because Drew Calver qualifies for its "financial assistance discount." In a statement, the hospital said this offer was contingent on Calver submitting his application for a discount based on his household finances. Calver disputed that he owes any additional money to St. David's and said this situation should have been resolved long before now.

Unfortunately, NPR cannot cover every patient's story, and countless Americans face similar problems every day.

H/T - NPR, CNBC

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

Have you ever been reading a book, watching a movie, or even sitting down for a fantastical cartoon and began to salivate when the characters dig into some doozy of a made up food?

You're not alone.

Food is apparently fertile ground for creativity. Authors, movie directors, and animators all can't help but put a little extra time and effort into the process of making characters' tasty delights mouthwatering even for audiences on the other side of the screen.

Read on for a perfect mixture of nostalgia and hunger.

AllWhammyNoMorals asked, "What's a fictional food you've always wanted to try?"

Some people were all about the magical foods eaten in the magical places. They couldn't help but wish they could bite into something with fantastical properties and unearthly deliciousness.

Nutritious

"Enchanted golden apple" -- DabbingIsSo2015

"The Minecraft eating sounds make me hungry" -- FishingHobo

"Gotta love that health regeneration" -- r2celjazz

"Pretty sure those are based off the golden apples that grant immortality. Norse mythology I think?" -- Raven_of_Blades

Take Your Pick

"Nearly any food from Charlie and the Chocolate factory" -- CrimsonFox100

"Came here to say snozzberries!" -- Utah_Writer

"Everlasting Gobstoppers #1, but also when they're free to roam near the chocolate river and the entire environment is edible." -- devo9er

Peak Efficiency

"Lembas" -- Roxwords

"The one that fills you with just a bite? My fat a** would be making sandwiches with two lembas breads and putting bacon, avocado and cheese inside. Then probably go for some dessert afterwards. No wonder why those elves are all skinny, eating just one measly bite of this stuff." -- sushister

Some people got stuck on the foods they saw in the cartoons they watched growing up. The vibrant colors, the artistic sounds, and the exaggerated movements all come together to form some good-looking fake grub.

The One and Only

"Krabby patty 🍔" -- Cat_xox

"And a kelp shake" -- titsclitsntennerbits

"As a kid I always pretended burgers from McDonalds were Krabby Patties, heck from time to time I still do for the nostalgia of it all. Many of my friends did the same thing." -- Thisissuchadragtodo

Cheeeeeeeeese

"The pizza from an extremely goofy movie. The stringy cheese just looked magical lol" -- ES_Verified

"The pizza in the old TMNT cartoon as well." -- gate_of_steiner85

"Only bested by the pizza from All Dogs Go to Heaven." -- Purdaddy

Get a Big Old Chunk

"Those giant turkey drumsticks in old cartoons that characters would tear huge chunks out of. Those things looked amazing, turkey drumsticks in real life suck and are annoying to eat."

-- Ozwaldo

Slurp, Slurp, Slurp

"Every bowl of ramen on any anime, ever." -- Cat_xox

"Studio Ghibli eggs and bacon" -- DrManhattan_DDM

"Honestly, any food in anime. I swear to god half the budget no matter what the studio goes into making the food look absolutely delicious." -- Viridun

Finally, some highlighted the things that aren't quite so far-fetched, but still far enough away that it's nothing we'll be eating anytime soon.

That tease can be enough to make your mouth water.

What's In It??

"Butter beer" -- Damn_Dog_Inappropes

"came here to say this. i was pretty disappointed with the universal studio version which was over the top sweet. it was more of a butterscotch root beer. i imagine butter beer to be something more like butter and beer, which wouldn't be crazy sweet, but would have a very deep rich flavor" -- crazyskiingsloth

Slice of the Future

"The microwave pizzas in back to the future two" -- biggiemick91

"I've been fascinated with those for years! They just look so good!" -- skoros

As Sweet As They Had

"The Turkish Delight from Lion Witch & Wardrobe. The real ones I had weren't bad but nothing special." -- spoon_shaped_spoon

"Came here to say this. I know it's a real thing, but I always imagined that it must have been amazing to betray your siblings over." -- la_yes

"You're used to freely available too sweet sweets. For a WW2 era schoolkid, it would have represented all the sweets for an entire year." -- ResponsibleLimeade



Here's hoping you made it through the list without going into kitchen for some snack you didn't actually need.

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