In 2009, Shanyna Isom suffered an allergic reaction to steroids prescribed for an asthma attack, and within hours she was itching all over her body and bumps started sprouting up under her skin. Doctors soon discovered that the bumps were in fact fingernails growing out of every hair follicle. Shanya’s illness is sui generis: that is, doctors don’t know what it is or how to treat it.
Naturally, Shanya’s medical bills are growing and she and her family are going into debt in America’s outstanding healthcare system. The state-issued insurance does not cover her Baltimore-based specialist and only covers five of the 17 medications she is prescribed.
In the US healthcare system, driven by the free market as it is, it’s considered Shanya’s problem instead of a civic imperative to help she and her doctors pinpoint the nature of the illness and treat it. To hear it from anti-universal healthcare forces, however, Shanya should simply wait for charity to kick in—a good idea theoretically, but not in practice.
Perhaps the press surrounding her mystery illness will help out in that regard. Or we could give ourselves and our neighbors universal healthcare so Shanya doesn’t have to compound the nighmare of illness with the nightmare of debt.