KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Ohio Man Dies From Tooth Infection After He Couldn’t Afford Medicine

Dentists said his tooth needed to be pulled, but man deferred because he had no job or insurance.

ABC News: Man Dies From Toothache, Couldn't Afford Meds
A 24-year-old Cincinnati father died from a tooth infection this week because he couldn't afford his medication, offering a sobering reminder of the importance of oral health and the number of people without access to dental or health care. According to NBC affiliate WLWT, Kyle Willis' wisdom tooth started hurting two weeks ago. When dentists told him it needed to be pulled, he decided to forgo the procedure, because he was unemployed and had no health insurance (Gann, 9/2).

Another news organization offers help to consumers worried about health bills.

Marketwatch: 5 Ways To Haggle Down Big Medical Bills
If you’re struggling with health-care costs in general or a specific medical or hospital bill, consider talking with an often-overlooked potential ally: your doctor.  Many people might be loath to admit to money worries or to confront a trusted physician with a billing dispute. But as medical inflation continues to rise and patients are stuck with a higher share of total costs than they were in past decades, more doctors will be open to negotiating and helping them navigate billing problems, according to a report in the October issue of Consumer Reports. "Physicians have a fiduciary obligation to their patients. That obligation means that a patient's fiduciary needs should come before their own," said Dr. John Santa, director of Consumer Reports' Health Ratings Center in Yonkers, N.Y. "Many physicians do understand that and take that seriously" (Gerencher, 9/6).

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