Hernia Operation Cancelled Because Patient Lacked 50% Upfront Payment

Apparently it is not medically necessary by UNM Hospital standards to push someone's guts back into their body cavity and sew up the hole that burst open when the injury first occurred.


An Albuquerque man in his 60s was supposed to get a hernia operation today at UNM Hospital. But last week, the Hospital called and asked him if he had a $2,000 down payment on the $8,433 surgery. He didn't have that kind of money. He works full time at a local restaurant, earning $9.30 per hour, with no benefits. He is trying his best to save up $2,000 as a down payment. It could take a long time.  Meanwhile, he can't lift anything, and often has to leave work early because he cannot bear the pain.  

Although $2,000 is not 50% of the total cost, it is still too much to ask from someone who lives below the poverty line and who has no other options - he does not qualify for Medicaid, or UNM Care, of the NM Health Insurance Exchange, or the High Risk Insurance Pool.  He has no other means to pay for his necessary medical care.

It seems completely arbitrary and capricious - why $2,000?  Why not $1,200, or $700, or $3,000 for that matter?  Who comes up with the magic number that will allow this man to have his painful hernia repaired so he can work for a living?

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