I had to count the hours before my insurance took effect before I could go to the ER

My name is Teresa. I am a 47 year old Registered Nurse living in Southern Illinois. In December 2009, I started a new job. I was unable to afford COBRA insurance to tide me over until my new insurance came into effect 2-1-10. On January 31,2010 I was sitting in a resteraunt with 2 friends, both nurses. We were sitting there waiting for our food to be served when i felt very warm, nauseated, and a sharp severe pain occured in my RLQ,radiating across my abdomen and up to my right flank. My friends asked me if I was ok because they said I turned a pale ashy color. I told them what was going on and they asked if I wanted to go to the ER. I told them no, my insurance hasn’t taken effect. I promised them I would go to ER if the pain continues or gets worse.

I left the resteraunt and went home. Once I got home, I still was feeling nauseated and in pain. I still had 6 hours before my insurance took effect. I had 2 large emesis and went to bed. At 1:30am, I woke up in pain and feeling nauseated. I had 2 more large emesis and my pain became progressively worse. At 4:00am I finally drove myself to the local ER. A CAT scan showed that I had a 9cm x 10cm mass on my right ovary. Eventually I was transferred to another facility where I had surgery. I ended up having a total hysterectomy. When they did the surgery, they found that I had 1 liter of blood laying on my stomach, a small cyst on my left ovary and my right ovary had twisted 4 times, was dead, and had been seeping the blood into my abdomen. How I wasn’t septic or had pain before then I don’t know.

I am recovering at home now, but have had complications. I started having drainage from my incision and when they removed my staples my incision dehisced. Add to that I found out I don’t have short term disability at work. They said I didn’t sign up for it when I signed up for my benefits. Why would I sign up for long term disability and not short term disability? I know I signed up for it. Anyway, I also don’t have any sick time saved up because you don’t start accumulating sick time until you have been there 90 days. My day 90 I was in the hospital. I also do not qualify for FMLA leave because I have not been therer 1 year.

The only thing I qualify for is a 4 week leave of abscence and if I don’t return in 4 weeks they can post my job. My nurse manager swears she won’t post it, but I am not sure I believe her. So here I sit with a 11cm x 4cm x 4cm deep opening in my abdomen and no income until the end of March or first of April. I know I only had to wait a few hours for my insurance took effect so I could go to the ER, but what if it had been days or weeks??? Or what if I had no health insurance? I don’t even want to think what could have happened.

All Americans deserve quality affordable healthcare. Look what happened to me and I am a nurse. Healthcare reform must pass.

McLeansboro, IL
Heathcare Status: Employer Insured

Patient Submitted Stories is a project of GuaranteedHealthcare.org. You can read more patient stories here, or submit your own story here.


  1. Alfred Borg on April 21, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    How can we find out how much money members of Congress receive from the Insurance and Pharmaceutical industries?

    • Stu on April 24, 2011 at 5:50 am

      People in congress have government run Cadillac plans for life!! The very same people preaching against any government run health care! It’s almost laughable if it was actually funny… But it’s not funny it’s dam seriously pathetic is what it is…

  2. Michele on July 23, 2010 at 9:43 pm

    I just want to sat Mr. Moore keep up the great work you are doing exposing these fucking greedy bastards. I can’t believe people tell you “quit making movies”. I say keep making movies! I’m anxiously waiting for your next one….

    And shame on us for not taking better care of our own citizens for god sakes.

    People in power, this could be your family some day….and I believe in Karma so……one day it may be your daughter not having medical insurance and needing it, or your son who lost his job and not from his own fault, your family flat ass broke and cant help.

    Bills pile up and a greedy ass bank kicks them out of their homes only to let it sit empty for months and months, maybe even years without reselling it.

    Yep Karma….some day they’ll get theirs eh?

    • Terry on October 30, 2010 at 12:54 am

      Your comments are correct. Insurance companies making huge profits from the illnesses of people, how sick can that be. I don’t understand why the US cannot introduce a universal health care system for all. The idea that a government run health care system equates to socialism or communism is ludicrous. United Kingdom, Canada, France and Australia etc have universal health care systems and yet they are not communist or socialist societies. They are all liberal democracies.
      Obama should have been much tougher towards the private companies by introducing a single payer scheme. This would have allowed the US Government to compete with the private companies in selling health insurance. I am certain that such action would have driven down the cost of health insurance premiums.
      It is ridiculous for health premiums to be many hundreds of dollars per month, that is fine if one works for a major corporation where the employer offers health insurance as part of the employee’s salary package.
      For those working on minimum wage, they are not in a position to buy health insurance , what happens to them when they are hospitalized? I would not like to contemplate their fate.

  3. Michele on July 23, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    All these CEO’s…what the hell is up with their freaking salaries???? And WTF is up with CEO’s getting a $20 million dollar severance package AFTER BEING FIRED? For fuck sake!

    I just don’t get it. A CEO can get fired for screwing up at work and he gets $20 million to fuck off. And that guy doesnt care about the millions who are unjustly kicked out of their homes because he’s in some mansion in Hawaii with his pill popping snotty bitch wife and slutty mistress.

    Who cares about the blue-collar people who do all the work and KEEP companies going, making that CEO richer?

    Fucking bastards.

    And the people in power who keep the insurance companies richer, and allow them not to have help people in need.

  4. Alan Papert on November 6, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    There is a wave of anger at health care reform, and there should be. The problem is that it is misdirected. It should be targeted our reliance on health insurance companies. It is not that they are greedy or evil but that they, by the nature of their business, deny coverage to high risk people. The result has been that people pay for health insurance for years and enjoy great health care as long as they are reasonably healthy, but are on their own when they become ill and unable to work. The above should have become apparent to everyone when the health insurance companies drastically increased their premiums in reaction to being forced to provide insurance to the people who really need it; the chronically ill. The rate increases reflect the number of people whose insurance would have been dropped. A note to Sarah Palin: This is where the death panels reside.
    Health reform should be tackled again from the beginning, but not in the way that the Republicans would like. The easiest way to reduce costs in any business is to reduce overheads. I fail to see what the health insurance industry adds to health care other than a vast overhead, both directly and indirectly in the cost to the providers. The health care providers have to navigate an array of different irksome rules to get approval from an array of policies. I recently received reimbursement from my insurance with three pages containing 150, or so, codes most of which were reasons for denying payment. In addition health insurance premiums have become an onerous employment tax on businesses. The IRS rate applies only to the extra profit a new hire brings in. During the 20 years after world war II, the ‘greatest generation’ rebuilt our economy while the tax rate ranged from 20% to 91%. My first boss, in 1952, said “The high tax rate just means that I have to work harder to make more money”.
    Ask anyone who has a chronic debilitating disease which has caused them to lose their jobs, show much trouble they have getting treatment. Looking at the 2008 annual report of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, I find that 5% of the premiums collected go to claims adjustments, and 7% to administration and profit. Thus our premiums could be reduced by a minimum of 12% if we had a single payer system.
    I agree with the Republicans that tort reform is vital to reduce the temptation of doctors to perform unnecessary tests and procedures and to reduce the cost of their insurance.
    The only people who should get rich out of health care are the doctors and nurses who provide the care. They should be trusted to provide necessary care to keep the population as healthy as possible. A single payer independent public-benefit corporation, funded by a targeted tax and administered by a panel of doctors would reduce the cost of health care drastically. The majority of doctors really care about their patients enough to control the minority who would try to take advantage of their freedom of action.

    • Steven Doolin on January 6, 2011 at 2:11 pm

      This is probably the clearest most concise evauluation I’ve ever read. Logic very seldom concurs greed. The established industries will fight to the death/our death. If you let people treat you badly they will.

  5. james walker on February 2, 2013 at 10:39 am

    hi i have just watched sicko and read this poor nurses story .these things bring me to tears to think that the most supposedly powerful nation on earth cant or rather wont look after its populations health issues….. i am an expat Brit living in Australia thankfully covered by the NHS in this country should i need any hospital care..
    all i can say to Theresa and all the others like her is raise awarness to this problem and convince people that they do have a voice and can affect the outcome ….hit these bastards where it hurts ,revolt, protest do anything to change this inhumane system listen i know its a pipe dream but say what if you all stopped paying insurance ? theyd listen then because youd kill their bottom line and by the sounds of it you wouldnt be any worse off anyway….

    since 1948 weve had system in place that takes 10% of your wage every week its called national insurance it pays for your state pension and your healthcare ..it works..its not perfect but we dont dump people in cabs who are sick DEMAND CHANGE its your right

    stop being scared cos these wankers will strip you bare they dont give a fuck about your health our leaders dont either but their forced into providing it because we demanded it

  6. james walker on February 2, 2013 at 10:47 am

    secondly we re seeing an awful lot more American immigrants here in Australia lately
    maybe those that can, are leaving and we ll welcome them
    youll lose your best and brightest because we can offer them better living conditons
    thanks to this film i wont be visiting the US without insurance of some sort ..i find it barbaric that any doctor thats sworn the hippocratic oath can let this happen

  7. Raili on October 11, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    My name Raili. I am an RN. I was hit with a serious misfortune out of a nowhere. My employer was supposed to provide insurance for me. That was the agreement before I started working. After 2 months I reminded the administration office and they shrugged they shoulders and stated. Oh! Is it time already. I replied yes. Every week after that I kept reminding them. I had no pre-existings at the time. When I reminded the lady who deals with these issues and is responsible for the healthcare again for I think was 14-th time. She said you are ok right? I said yes, but you still need to do my paperwork and enact my insurance. I do my job every day. Stay late and fulfill my job please give me my insurance. She said ok I will do it in May. Which made me very uppset, but I replied calmly I have been here for almost six months and waiting period was 90 days I need it done. She still took her time. So monday I was going to go inn and tell them I will quit if they do not do as they agreed when they hired me. Well over the weekend I had a seizure and I ended up in a hospital where they removed a tumor from my head. My boss came to see me. What a joke. And when she found out that I had no insurance witch she promised me upon hire. He asked me how come I did not have my own. I cant still work and I cant afford cancer meds or radiation. And I am stuck with a bill. They were reminded and to do what they promised. I did what I promised, but they sentenced me to death. I cant afford to pay for the emergency surgery bill I have. I cant afford to go to neurologist and I sometimes wish they did not get all heroic on me and do the surgery because even though I worked hard and did all I had to do . They decided that I was not good enough to have insurance. Oh and state was no help. I went through nursing school by saving money for tuition I took no loans and now I feel like a complete bum. I am dont think I will ever get the treatment to get well. But they will hound me every day for my luxury vacation in a hospital which my employer made sure I could not afford. And company provided good insurance, but I guess I did not deserve it. They would have only had to take it out of my check. My heart is broken, but I understand why country is falling apart. Most people dont do their jobs and the ones who do get punished. Yet these people keep their jobs. Truly dont understand.