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December 1, 2009 6:39 AM

California cancer patient puts face to plight of uninsured

Huge bills begin arriving in the mail, a frightening deja vu for Tony Andrade. The shoe box in his bedroom already is stacked with overdue notices from hospitals and doctors. But a new statement from Kaiser Permanente dated Sept. 20 is particularly jolting. It gives Andrade two weeks to pay $11,309.10, most of it for the June 17 visit to the Kaiser emergency room, where the cancerous growth in his bladder was discovered. It would seem a cruel twist that those with the least have to pay the most for medical care. But lacking health insurance means forgoing the bargaining power of insurance companies. Andrade's bills likely are thousands of dollars higher than they would be if he were insured.

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