Health insurance jeopardizes baby's life

February 25, 2009 3:02:49 PM PST
There is now a price on two-month-old Laith Dougherty's life: $1.5-million. That's how much it will cost to give him the new heart he so desperately needs.

Health insurance won't pay it, and hospitals that could perform the life saving operation have rejected him:

"Our health care system is broken that children are being allowed to die," Ghadah Makoshi, Laith's mother, said.

Ghadah Makoshi and her husband have insurance, but it doesn't cover transplants and the family makes too much to qualify for coverage under Oregon's state health plan.

In any case, the Portland Hospital where Laith now is doesn't perform the surgery and the closest hospital that does, Seattle Children's, says because the baby is outside its region it has to have the money up front.

In a statement, the hospital said: "It pains us to be in a position where we cannot provide health care services to all children."

Medical ethicists say, in these hard times, more and more families are finding themselves underinsured.

"Any family that has these high deductibles and caps ends up sometimes with choices that look like being completely uninsured," medical ethicist Dr. Susan Tolle said.

Laith's family is going online seeking donations, but they don't have much time.

"Really at any moment, if he were to get an infection, if anything were to change, he wouldn't survive," Ghadah said.

So Ghadah stays close to her son, whose life now depends on the generosity of strangers.

LINK: For online donations -

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