Johnna VinZant's family has gone into debt recently, but not because they defaulted on their mortgage like so many other Americans. Johnna's family has gone into $30,000 worth of debt to pay for the lifesaving gastric bypass surgery that her insurance company denied. According to ABC News, Johnna's obesity is caused by a hormonal imbalance that no amount of dieting or exercise will fix, but instead of green lighting the bariatric surgery that would relieve the diabetes, sleep apnea, spinal disc disease, arthritis and incontinence Johnna's suffered, "her insurance company suggested a diet program and rejected her request for surgery coverage."Johnna's doctor, Alan Wittgrove, is infuriated by this decision. "And all this is, is discrimination," Wittgrove tells ABC. "What they want her to do is to submit to a process that is known to fail, that is diets for morbidly obese individuals in lieu of having something that is known to be successful in a very high percentage of the population. No other place in medicine would they do that." Johnna's husband does painting and drywall work, and her father is a school custodian. The only solution the family could come up with is for Johnna's dad, Skip Dove, to put the 30K surgery on a credit card that had a 22% interest rate, effectively delaying his retirement for the foreseeable future. Elizabeth Edwards says that the deplorable state of the health insurance industry and the plight of women like Johnna is to blame for the current economic crisis. This afternoon, the AP reports that "Elizabeth Edwards said during a conference call Tuesday that medical bills often lead to foreclosure, a primary factor in the lagging housing market that's led to the demise of several Wall Street firms." What's more, Edwards pointed out earlier this year that under John McCain's aggressively deregulated, market-driven health care plan, both she and McCain would have trouble getting insured because of their pre-existing conditions (Edwards's cancer and McCain's melanoma). It's hard to believe that under a McCain regime, Johnna's situation would be any better, and it would likely be far worse, as a new study shows that women who pay for health insurance on the individual market pay up to 45% more than men on the individual market, depending on age. Going Into Debt To Save A Life [ABC News] Elizabeth Edwards Ties Health Care To Economy [AP] Federal Money In Health Care Plan From McCain [NYT] COVERAGE: I Am Woman... Hear Me Pay More [New Health Dialogue Blog] Earlier: Weight Discrimination Is Rampant The World Over
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