Woman does the math after serious injury

The foundation of health insurance in recent decades is getting people not to use what they pay for. So what happened in Boston the other day shouldn’t be too surprising even though it’s unusual to see the system laid bare in such a dramatic way.

A 45-year-old woman’s leg got caught between a subway car and the station platform. The cut in her leg went to the bone. She needed an ambulance, but as people tried to help her, she screamed that she didn’t want an ambulance. It would cost too much, she said.

A Boston Globe reporter happened to be there, too.

“We just worry about taking care of people,” Jim Hooley, the chief of ambulance services in the city, said. “We don’t want to cause them more stress. We just want to reassure them that nothing bad is going to happen to them because of their inability to pay.”

Still, he calculates the cost of the ambulance at between $1,200 and $1,900 for a trip up the street a bit to a hospital.

“Health care is a complicated problem, one exacerbated by the gridlock in Washington,” the New York Times wrote in its editorial. “But the trade-offs that everyday people are being asked to make, the calculations they are being forced to undertake in the scariest of situations, suggest that far too many of America’s politicians have placed too little value on the well-being of its citizens. Nothing will change until their fellow citizens step into the ballot box and insist on something better.”