In 1988, American Leon Lederman won the nobel prize for physics. After passing away this past Wednesday, October 3, it's been revealed that, due to the ever-rising costs of healthcare in America, Lederman was forced to sell his medal to cover his hospital charges.
He sold the medal in 2015 for $765,000 as medical bills piled up. Lederman, an American icon of science who discovered the Higgs boson subatomic particle (aka the "God particle"), began suffering from memory loss in 2011, and moved into nursing home.
@nytimes RIP. Shame to a cruel society that ignores those in need but gives tax breaks to the rich.— Norbert Schuff (@Norbert Schuff)1538721153.0
@nytimes only in America— Tess Linden (@Tess Linden)1538717743.0
Despite Lederman's illustrious career, or his time spent as a professor at the University of Chicago, his medical bills couldn't be helped. An average day in a U.S. hospital costs around $5,220 ("compared to $765 in Australia or $424 in Spain") and a private room in a nursing home is typically $7,698 per month, a price which is not covered by Medicare.
@APWestRegion Ah yes, the American Dream: Winning a Nobel prize and then having to sell it to pay your medical bills.— Sean Merriam (@Sean Merriam)1538629757.0
For many, Medicaid is the only option to try and pay nursing home bills, but qualifying for the service usually means "selling off significant assets and dwindling down savings in order to fall below the public program's income requirements."
@_WVU_BigXII_ @APWestRegion Our healthcare system needs to be overhauled. It must cover everyone. It should not be… https://t.co/WJ8PsjWVJM— Renee Hoagenson 2018 🌊 (@Renee Hoagenson 2018 🌊)1538738403.0
Lederman was born in 1922 in New York City. Though his father was a laundry worker, the scientist applied himself and, after serving a stint in the army, got a physics degree from Columbia University (a feat which would be significantly harder in today's widespread culture of wealth inequality and skyrocketing prices for a college education). After rising to the pinnacle of success in his field, Lederman suffered from the aging process that will one day affect us all, and was forced to sell his greatest professional achievement to make ends meet.
@APWestRegion @felixsalmon He taught physics for humanities majors at U of Chicago because he loved to spread knowl… https://t.co/vUJ4YTcaht— Chad Metzler (@Chad Metzler)1538623484.0
People online were flabbergasted that America's medical system failed Lederman so thoroughly:
so sad & touching. if Leon Lederman had lived in another, more civilized country, his final years would not have be… https://t.co/8XDsLlfqZx— Joyce Carol Oates (@Joyce Carol Oates)1538666509.0
@nytimes This is what happens when the US is one of few countries on earth without national health care. What is up… https://t.co/MrOoSC8MNM— Diane Walton (@Diane Walton)1538717642.0
@nytimes It’s quite a shame that in a developed country, someone has to cell what he was honored so as to pay medic… https://t.co/039roDFoGK— Costansia Bureta (@Costansia Bureta)1538717715.0
@nytimes The American dream: Winning the Nobel prize then having to sell it in order to pay your medical bills, whi… https://t.co/RpSyFvUZHU— Abhijit Sarkar (@Abhijit Sarkar)1538821767.0
Believe it or not, Lederman's story is happier than most's. Imagine someone's mother or father was in the same situation, but had not won the nobel prize. Where would that money have come from? It's time the American healthcare system began caring for its citizens instead of exploiting them for profit.