Heartbroken mom who can't afford her son's insulin asks how other Americans are making it

Katie Schieffer is a mom of a 9-year-old who was recently diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes after spending some time in the ICU. Diabetes is a nuisance of a disease on its own, requiring blood sugar checks and injections of insulin several times a day. It can also be expensive to maintain—especially as the cost of insulin (which is actually quite inexpensive to make) has risen exponentially.

Schieffer shared an emotional video on TikTok after she'd gone to the pharmacy to pick up her son's insulin and was smacked with a bill for $1000. "I couldn't pay for it," she says through tears in the video. "I now have to go in and tell my 9-year-old son I couldn't pay for it."

Schieffer explained that she has been working for 17 years and that she and her husband both work full-time. She works third shift and goes to school during the day. "How are you guys making it?" she asked. "Am I the only one struggling?"

She's not the only one struggling, of course. The unaffordability of healthcare in the U.S. is a national crisis. While the Affordable Care Act helped millions access health insurance, there are still millions of Americans who are uninsured or underinsured. And medical bills can still be hard to cover, even if you have insurance.

Speaking from experience, out-of-pocket expenses after insurance can still cost thousands of dollars. Even just doing diagnostic tests, scans, and procedures to figure out what an issue is—not even getting into treating whatever it is yet—can be too steep after insurance pays their portion for many families to afford. Americans have to constantly weigh whether the risk of missing a serious health issue outweighs the debilitating cost of a test to rule it out.

Schieffer's video went viral and she received a beautiful outpouring of support and advice. Some commenters shared how she can get insulin in an affordable way, including going to the medicine manufacturer's website and getting their cost assistance forms. She explained in a comment and a follow-up video that it was actually the blood sugar monitor that was $1100 and not covered under their insurance, and people suggested the same cost assistance route.

Others just chimed in with words of solidarity, agreeing that our system is broken. More than a few suggested she share her Venmo account name in her profile so people could help crowdfund financial assistance for her son's medical care. If that alone isn't a sign that the system is broken, nothing is.

Schieffer is getting it all worked out with the helpful advice and generosity of strangers, and she shared a video from her son about how he's doing as he learns to manage his diabetes.

@slimkwow Please don't take this one down we didn't show any needles or “drug use". ##t1d ##kids ##thankyou
♬ original sound - Katie Schieffer

When stories like this go viral, it's a mixed bag. While it's inspiring to see people rally around a fellow human being with love and support, it's also infuriating to realize how dystopian it can be here in the "land of the free." The U.S. is supposed to be some kind of beacon of light to the world, but what kind of shithole country lets its citizens go bankrupt or die because they can't afford to go to the doctor or pay for their medications? Part of why our health outcomes are so abysmal compared to other developed nations is because people don't get the medical care they need because they can't afford it. That's just plain ridiculous.

If anyone wants to help this mama and kiddo out, here's where you can send donations. (Just be aware that someone has set up fake accounts with an extra "r" at the end, so be sure you only see one "r" in Schieffer.)

Venmo: @Katherine-Schieffer


No one should have to crowdfund to pay for healthcare, but here we are. Hopefully with a new administration coming in, we'll make more strides toward joining the rest of the developed world in ensuring that healthcare is truly affordable for all Americans.

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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