High School Teacher Slammed With $109,000 Medical Bill After Suffering Heart Attack
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.
Reddit user one-droplet asked: 'What have you always done, but later found out was gross?'
There's this amazing quote by Maya Angelou that we can all put into practice: "Do the best you can until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better."
This can be applied to anything in life, from learning more about a subject that we're passionate about, to practicing better time management skills, to being a better friend.
But there are some things that we may not even realize we need to do better... until we suddenly know better.
Cringing in anticipation, Redditor one-droplet asked:
"What have you always done, but later found out was gross?"
The Best Ice
"When I was like five or six years old I would love going to the grocery store with my mom because the vegetable and fruit and meat tables always had the best ice to chew on..."
"I work in a restaurant, and I try to grab a cup to get the ice before they use it for raw oysters and shrimp cocktails. It really is the best ice."
Toilet Paper Use
"As an Asian, I was always taught growing up to throw used toilet paper in the trash bin. It wasn't until I went on a school trip to Italy and the chaperone mentioned to everyone, 'The plumbing system here isn't as good as the USA so you guys are just gonna have to throw it in the trash bin,' and everyone went, 'Ew.'"
"That's when I learned that it was gross to throw toilet paper in the trash bin since the issue was you're basically having shit bits sitting around in a bin."
"All my life, I wiped my toothbrush on the hand towel to dry it up until my sister asked what the f**k I was doing."
"My sister used to scrub the bristles on the faucet where the water came out when she was done brushing her teeth. I guess to dry it off. I still cringe thinking about it."
That's Not Clay
"As a child, I would dig up bits of clay from the local sandbox. It wasn’t as good as Play-Doh, so I would cast it aside and continue digging."
"Maybe I didn’t have a very good sense of smell at that age, because I was well into adulthood before I realized it was probably cat s**t."
"I showered in a dirty tub. Once I discovered how gross it really was, my hoarder mother didn’t like it when I cleaned the bathroom, so I just lived with it til I was able to get a place."
"My hoarder mom was like this."
"When I tried to wash the nicotine off the walls in my bedroom, my hoarder parents were not happy."
"I waited until a towel smelled weird to swap it out."
"Look, the towel forgets everything before the next shower."
Self-Service Assorted Candies
"I used to really like those self-service lollies/candy buckets with the scoops. They were in most big box stores in Australia, like Kmart, Target, Big W. So much fun mixing and matching."
"But then one day I started working at Target. Every single day I caught old people and kids with their hands directly inside grabbing them out and munching down all slobbery-like. That turned me off forever."
"Though not too long after they started disappearing from businesses so obviously someone got the unsanitary message."
"I flushed my tampons my whole life until I was about 30. No one had taught me they weren’t flushable. I stupidly thought they were like toilet paper."
"One expensive and embarrassing plumbing problem later, I never did it again."
"Not brushing my teeth when I wake up. I would only brush my teeth after breakfast, and I would rarely eat breakfast."
"So most days I would only brush my teeth at night. I figured, 'Well, I brushed last night and haven’t eaten anything since, so why should I brush again?'"
" Then I learned about all the bacteria that feed on the tiny bits of food left in your teeth and they literally expel gas and feces in your mouth as they consume it. And this is what causes awful morning breath."
"So I have this mental image of bacteria poop and farts coating my mouth and have brushed every morning since regardless of eating breakfast or not."
"Brush at night to keep your teeth, and brush in the morning to keep your friends."
Not Just Yellow Snow
"Eating snow. Just take the same handful of snow you might see a kid stuff in their mouth and let it melt in a glass. Bet you wouldn’t willingly drink it!"
Don't Visit Everyone's House
"I sit on my couch butt naked when I’m alone watching TV at night. I mean I’m relatively clean but I feel sorry for anyone else that sits there."
Letting the Hair Fall Where It May
"I'm suffering from hair loss at the moment (51 Female) and I'm often absent-mindedly raking a hand through my long hair, glancing at what comes out and then dropping the strands on the floor."
"Just read on another sub that that's pretty disgusting to other people. In my defense, I work exclusively from home in my own small office and would never do it in public, but even so, maybe my husband thinks I'm gross."
"Wearing shoes inside. My family was not a shoes off family and they always wore outside shoes inside."
"I remember a few friends' homes were strict shoes-off homes, but I thought that was the minority."
"I was about 27 years old before I realized it was disgusting and people were definitely judging my etiquette."
"Double-dipping snacks. Pretty logical but only found out recently that’s very bad etiquette."
"Double-dipping is only acceptable if you’re not sharing the dip with anyone."
"Some things I've learned:"
"Wash my bedsheets every week, including bed, pillows, and covers."
"Only use the same bath towel twice before washing it."
"Use a new toothbrush head every month."
"Always wash my hands coming back from a store or public transit."
"And NEVER EVER go into a resort pool with a swim-in bar."
This conversation was so cringe-worthy and left us wanting a shower in the worst way.
At least for most of these Redditors, now that they knew these are gross habits, they've chosen to do something better.
Sources provided by health experts informed us to eat fruits and vegetables in order to nourish our bodies with energy, and to drink milk to ensure we grew up with strong bones and muscles.
However, nowadays, consumers are confused.
There seems to be conflicting information every day regarding the benefits, or harm, of eating the foods we were always told were detrimental to our health.
Curious to hear from strangers online about our misconceptions regarding the foods we eat, Redditor Meerkate asked:
"What are some foods that aren't as unhealthy as people make them out to be?"
People discuss everyone's favorite movie snack.
Pass The Popcorn
"Popcorn. For how good it tastes, it has almost nothing bad in it."
"You add the salt and butter of course, and those arent great, but you're not getting a super high amount of those."
"Adding in decent quality butter (not margarine) and a few shakes of regular salt is not unhealthy at all. The problem is with the sh*t that movie theatres put in popcorn."
Careful With The Seasoning
"My body started rejecting movie theater popcorn butter when I was about 25. That stuff will make you sh*t your pants and miss the end of the movie. Just salt for me thanks. Real melted butter at home or at Alamo Drafthouse."
"I love popcorn."
"You probably buy the kernels too but for those who don't, it's significantly cheaper and healthier to buy just a big container of popcorn kernels."
"Pop them on the stove top with a small amount of oil and sprinkle some finely ground salt (that's what movie theaters use for that magic flavor) and you're golden."
"It's super easy. I don't even add butter."
"You can also pop kernels in the microwave in a paper bag or in a bowl without buying the pre-bagged stuff. You'll never go back to those once you've popped your own kernels."
"An air popper works too of course, though that will definitely require butter."
Redditors talk about the health benefits of eating certain kinds of fat.
Not So Fat
"Fat in general (not the trans ones tho)"
"The low fat craze of the late ‘90s/early ‘00s has A LOT to answer for. My mom is still ridiculous about it. Yeah, moderation is good, but you can add some butter to your food so it’s edible and still live a long life."
Fat Is Your Friend
"Fat is a great source of sustained energy that doesn’t boost your blood glucose like other options."
"You really, really need fat in your diet for proper hormone regulation and other important body processes!"
Go easy on the carbs.
"Potatoes got several countries through famine! Probably alot of people associate them with fatty fries or crisps."
"Boil em, mash em, stick em in a stew"
"Exactly this. High satiation and low cost. You can wash out a lot of the starch if you're worried about it."
Let's discuss fruity.
"I’m so tired of hearing people talk about 'all the natural sugar in fruit.'”
"I guarantee you this banana is healthier than potato chips and cookies."
"My mom has done basically ever fad diet ever, but one thing I do like about the 'new' Weight Watchers is that fruits, vegetables, and lean meats like chicken breast are zero points. I think the logic behind it is that there is no f'king way you're going to eat enough carrot sticks and apples to make yourself gain weight, so they're trying to encourage people to default to that stuff when they're hungry even if they're out of points rather than just starving until they give up and eat a bunch of unhealthy foods. Weight Watchers doesn't really work long term, but that detail is nice."
"I think its the fiber in fruit that makes it not as bad. Also, it has nutrition to make up for it unlike the cookie that's just all refined flour and sugar."
"There are scientific studies suggesting that not all the calories in nuts are bioavailable, so you might only get 75% of the calories! There are also studies showing they contribute to weight loss even despite being high in calories."
When I was told butter is actually a better alternative to margarine–which is known to contain trans fat–I started cooking more with butter.
I believe we can eat anything in moderation, so as much as I love smearing pads of butter on my English muffin, I take it easy.
When it comes to baking with it and putting it on toast, nothing beats the flavor of my favorite dairy fat.
My family went on a lot trips when I was young, and we always stayed in hotel rooms. Around the time my brother and I were old enough to stay in a room by ourselves (our parents would stay in another one, usually across the hall), he also became a bit of a germaphobe.
At the time, I actually believed hotels changed the sheets on the beds daily, so when my brother fretted about the cleanliness of the hotels, I reassured him they were fine. He believed me at first, since I was his big sister, but by the time he was 12, he got suspicious.
During one of our trips, he decided to test this by making a mark on his pillow cover with a pen and turning the pillow cover inside out before we left for sightseeing the next morning. When we returned, he turned the pillow cover back, and his mark was still there, proving that the sheets hadn't been changed. He only had to do this one more time, during our next trip, for me to realize this wasn't a one-off.
Ever since, and even now in adulthood, my brother and I always intentionally spill something on our sheets during our first night in order to get clean sheets, at least for the duration of our stay. This, in fact, is the first thing we do.
I'm not the only person who does something a bit quirky like this when they first enter a hotel rooms. Plenty or Redditors have stories about this and are ready to share.
It all started when Redditor BlundeRuss asked:
"What’s the first thing you do when you get into a hotel room?"
Preparing For Sights
"Go to the balcony to see if it's going to be public nudity or private nudity during my morning coffee."
"I love that this doesn’t change your plans, just prepares your mind. Excellence."
Show Me The Truth
"Put my bags up on something and check the mattress. I also bought a UV flashlight but after using it at home I’ve decided that bringing it to a hotel would be unnecessary torture. Nothing is clean when you shine the thing on it. And I mean nothing."
"One of my close friends travels a ton for business. She also loves to sleep in a f**king ice box."
"She has found some resource for how to basically jailbreak hotel thermostats. Each hotel thermostat has a specific key sequence that unlocks the lower temps that the hotel normally doesn’t allow guests to set because, you know, money."
"I do this in every hotel."
"Set bags down."
"Look at room for cleanliness."
"Take a dump."
"I showed up early to a hotel after 12 hours straight of driving. Took forever for them to get me in the room (really it was probably only 30 minutes and they were super accommodating)."
"Anyways, I had been feeling the tyrannical gouging of a sh*t demon trying to claw it's way out for about half an hour beforehand. I ran down the hall, opened the door, threw my bag at something, and was kinda hovering over the toilet just in time. Hadn't put cheek to rim yet and my darling baby began his exit."
"It wasn't until after I looked up that I realized neither door was the self-closing kind and you could see all the way in from the hallway."
"You’ve unlocked a childhood memory. I stayed in a lot of hotels while growing up and I saw someone in your position once, trail of belongings leading to the toilet. So I went and shut the door for him."
"Find the bible and flip through it. When my sister and I were kids, we went to Disney, and I think she asked why is there always a bible in the drawer, waved it by the spine and 20 bucks fell out. So I always check now."
"I found $100 that way. 5 crisp 20's,. I was pretty broke at the time too."
"First, I look at the area between the mattress and headboard for any signs of bed bugs, then under the sheets. I’ve never encountered them, but I’ve heard so many horror stories that I’m paranoid about them."
"As someone who worked in hotels, I always double check the door locks and then inspect for bed bugs."
"Look for cameras. I'm a paranoid f**k."
"If anyone wants to see an overweight guy in his mid-40s eat pringles in his underwear while reading Stephen King novels, then they have my flabby white blessing."
"They sell surprisingly easy to use scanners on Amazon. I found a camera in an air bb bedroom alarm clock, threw a towel over it and got the whole stay for free. Some will detect signals but the best way is there’s a looking glass that’s red and it emits a light and you turn off all the lights and look around the room. Any active camera will shine like a cats eyes when you skim over it."
The Things We Find
"I check in odd places to see if anyone stashed drugs or money. You would be surprised at all the sh*t I’ve found over the years!"
"We found an axe under the bed once."
"Yank the comforter off the bed and throw it in the corner. they rarely wash those things."
"I discovered this recently while calling home to say good night to everyone. Dried food stuck to the comforter. Threw that bad boy off the bed."
"I cleaned an air BnB for a little while and I was so disturbed when they told me they didn't wash the comforter because hotels don't.... Like I guess I get it because they're heavy and they're trying to save water on the washes but yuck dude... Cleaning that air Bnb made me NEVER want to book one because of the sh*t the owners wouldn't LET me clean... I don't think I'd ever survive as a maid for a hotel, I could never travel again lol."
It's A Process
"Make a condom for the TV remote control. Take the ice bag from the ice bucket and put the remote in it. Now I never have to touch the remote."
"I'm sure disinfectant wipes could do the job."
Check For Monsters...People Monsters
"Make sure no one is hiding under the bed or in the bathroom 😂😅"
"I travel a lot for work…and I’m shocked no one else mentioned this. First I check the closet, under the bed, the bathroom for a hiding serial killer…then check the mattress for bedbugs…"
Today I Learned
"Check for cleanliness and then take pictures Traffickcam."
"Traffickcam is an app where you take specific pictures of your room and then upload them to their database. They use these pictures to check on the location of human trafficking victims."
"Take a picture of the room and post it on the Trafickcam app so if the room or similar has been used by human traffickers maybe it will help find someone."
And thanks to those last two stories, I'm a little scared to stay in another hotel.
Small acts of kindness that only a few know about can change the world.
You never know.
One smile can change one person's day.
And that person could carry it on.
So doing it ourselves may be the only answer.Redditor sashayingthru wanted to discuss the ways we know the world is still good, so they asked:
"What small act of kindness were you once shown that you will never forget?"
As someone who has waited on many tables, just tip properly.
You'll go to Heaven.
StrangersRobin Williams Dancing GIF by 20th Century Fox Home EntertainmentGiphy
"I once walked to a store to buy bags for my vacuum cleaner and I forgot to take my wallet. The shop owner gave me the bags, shook my hand, and told me to bring him to money tomorrow. He put his trust in a total stranger to do the right thing and I did."
In the Rain
"A man in a full business suit with a briefcase handed me an umbrella in a torrential rain storm and wouldn't take no for an answer. I still had to walk through Times Square to get to the train and I'm sure he got soaked going wherever he was going. A couple of weeks later, I gave the umbrella to a lost girl in my neighborhood when it started to rain and she didn't have one. Felt like the universe wanted it to happen."
"I'll never forget that man though."
Leggo my Lego
"When I was maybe 4 or 5 years old, I made friends with another kid in an airport, and he was playing with a couple glued glued-together Lego cars. Me and that kid played for like an hour with those things and when it was time to go our separate ways and board the plane, the kid insisted I keep one of the cars, and while I insisted he should keep them, he said it was proof that we were friends, and to this day roughly 20 years later, I still have that car packed up with my childhood mementos box."
"That friend of mine was a good kid. Hope he’s doin' well."
Don't Cry Tammy
"My husband and I were sitting on our porch holding hands and crying, just feeling overwhelmed because we were waiting to find out whether or not my tumor was cancerous. Our neighbor saw it when he was coming home. About half an hour later he came over with some freshly baked cookies. He didn't even say anything, just smiled, handed them to us, and then went back home."
"Just thinking about that moment has me crying again. From his kindness, not the fear. Tammy the Ti**y Tumor turned out benign!"
Coasting...Fail Will Ferrell GIF by Paramount PicturesGiphy
"I literally coasted into a gas station out of gas on my motorcycle, then realized I didn't have my wallet. Some lady saw me patting all my pockets and I was upset and offered to fill up my tank. I only let her put $5 in, which on a bike is a lot. But it meant so much to me."
Give people gas as often as possible..
Pay it forward.
Generosityhappy silent film GIF by Charlie ChaplinGiphy
"My realtor took less commission so that I could get my dream home. It was a rare find in a great neighborhood."
"Years ago my car got egged real badly overnight while parked on the driveway of our duplex. We had to go somewhere the next morning so took the wife’s car. Came back hours later and my car was shining like new on the driveway. The neighbor whose name I didn’t even know at that point had washed it for me while we were away."
Are those still a thing?
"I was in maybe 4th grade and my parents just had my younger sister, so newborn focused. I went to my school lunch, opened my paper bag (are those still a thing?), and unwrapped the foil holding my sandwich. There was nothing inside. It was actually just 2 slices of dry white slice bread and I was sad."
"Literally, my table mates all chipped in various components and made me the most amazing ham and cheese sandwich I’ve ever had. I’ve been chasing that dragon of ham sandwich since but I’m sure it was the response and not the ingredients that I loved."
"19 years old, first apartment, first winter, first winter utility bill. I smiled and told my coworker I'd just pay it, skip lunch, and eat cheap Mac and cheese for dinner. It'll be ok. All that month co-workers accidentally got extra chips from the vending machine. A wife packed an extra sandwich. A box of my favorite crackers would be on my desk when I came in. It was still hard but I didn't starve. Thanks, you guys."
Just TearsBig Brother Omg GIF by Global TVGiphy
"I was on the subway, sitting there crying because I had just ended a relationship. I wasn't making any noise, just tears, but the guy sitting next to me gave me some tissues. I'll never forget that."
Some of the best people ride the subway.
Everyone has tissues.