Did lack of health care coverage kill Thomas Duncan?


WASHINGTON, November 2, 2014 — Dallas hospital patient Thomas Eric Duncan died from Ebola. He contracted the virus in West Africa and then traveled to the United States, where he later died.

Some pundits say Ebola presents the potential for one of the most deadliest pandemics the United States has ever seen. Other experts question whether Ebola presents any risk at all.
Ebola, or ‘Ebol Haemorrhagic Fever’ is generally fatal if left untreated. However, it is a rare disease and is only contracted through fluids and close contact. Ebola is not an airborne disease.

READ ALSO: Ebola: Is this threat being ignored as “Africa’s problem”

Although the virus has already claimed thousands of lives, it is by no means the worse virus we have experienced globally. Ebola doesn’t even compare with Malaria, HIV, and other serious diseases that are not generally curable. American patients infected with the Ebola virus have recovered after receiving treatment in the U.S.

So why did Duncan, who was in the United States, die of the disease?

Reports from the medical community suggest the medical care Duncan received was mediocre at best. Compounding the problem was the fact that Duncan did not immediately go to the hospital when he first became ill. When he did go to the hospital, he was sent home and did not return to the hospital until the symptoms worsened. When he did enter the hospital, he did not receive the same treatment as the American health care workers who survived received. According to the Dallas hospital that treated Duncan, he did not even receive the blood transfusion other survivors received.

READ ALSO: Ebola-skeptics, transmission, survival and treatment: Five facts about the disease

One underlying cause for the lack of treatment and for Duncan’s initial reluctance to go to the hospital may have been because he did not have health care and he did not have financial resources to pay for treatment. If Duncan had either health insurance or financial resources, his treatment may have been substantially different. He likely would have sought medical treatment earlier. The hospital likely would have responded to Duncan’s initial visit differently if he had either health insurance or money, and his subsequent treatment would likely have been more thorough.

Millions of Americans still have no health insurance and, therefore, have little access to quality health care. If all Americans had health coverage, they could seek medical assistance to deal with any infection or disease they contract. This limits the spread of disease in the United States and ensures proper treatment for those who are sick.

Ebola is only deadly when people lack the resources to defeat it. With proper health care, people can survive the disease. Ebola is dangerous, but so is heart disease, Scarlet Fever, a burst appendix, and many other maladies if left untreated.

READ ALSO: Ebola fears, Ebola facts: No epidemic in America

The real problem with Ebola is not the virus, but lack of care to combat it. The access, or lack of access, rests on insurance coverage and financial resources.

If Duncan had the ability to afford quality health coverage in Texas, maybe he would still be alive today.

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Brandon Brice
Brandon earned a Bachelor's in Business Administration from Howard University, a Master’s of Science in International Affairs from Rutgers University and is currently completing his Executive Master's in Public Administration from Columbia University. Brandon has interned on Capitol Hill in the Office of former United States House Speaker, J. Dennis Hastert and served as a fellow with the Heritage Foundation and the United Nations. Brandon began his career as an Associate with National Urban League and later became a Senior Organizer for the Abyssinian Development Corporation being an advocate for seniors rights and at-risk youth. In less than two years Brandon was appointed to serve as the former Director of Education and African American Affairs for New Jersey Governor Chris J. Christie and was later appointed to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Brandon currently served as a regular featured Columnist for the Washington Times and now is a Columnist for Communities Digital News. Brandon currently serves as Director of Resource Development for Veterans Empowerment Organization. Brandon has been featured as a pundit and policy analyst on Fox News, ABC News, NY-1's Inside City Hall, BET, CNN, MSNBC' and Grit-TV. Mr. Brice's articles and work has appeared on AM-New York, the Washington Post, the Washington Times and Ebony.com. Brandon has given lectures at the Center for American Progress, Baruch College, Princeton University, the Harbor League, the National Black Law Students Association and the Alexander Hamilton Society in Washington, D.C. Mr. Brice received an award from the City of Newark for his work in community development and is a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Brandon has been featured as a guest political contributor on FOX News, Fox & Friends, Hannity, ABC, Inside City Hall, BET and Grit-TV. Brandon is a former blogger with MSNBC's the Grio and HipHopRepublican.com. His articles and work has appeared on Time Out New York, the Washington Post, the Washington Times and Ebony.com. Brandon has given lectures at the Center for American Progress, Baruch College, Princeton University, the Harbor League, the National Black Law Students Association's and the Alexander Hamilton Society.
  • thepokerking99 .


  • Lt. Lockhart

    Obama lied to a joint session of Congress in October, 2009 when he claimed that no Federal money would be used to fund the murder of the unborn.

  • Alex

    There is no compelling reason to believe lack of health insurance affected Mr. Duncan’s care.

    1. The care he received was very clearly not bound by the family’s ability to pay. During his stay in the hospital, he received attention from dozens of doctors and nurses. The CDC itself provided onsite doctors. In addition to high cost procedures, experimental medication which had previously been used with another survivor was tried with Duncan. Although there are no numbers available, it’s clear that his care ran into the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, if indeed it did not pass the million mark.

    2. During his initial visit, Thomas Duncan was retained at the hospital for over 4 hours. During this time he was given full, standard set of blood tests. He arrived at the hospital with a low fever, and by around 3am it had spiked to 103 degrees. When he was checked again 30 minutes later, the fever had receded to 101. As the blood tests had revealed nothing special, and as he reported being much more comfortable and fine with going home, he was sent home with a prescription for antibiotics and instructions to return or see a doctor the next day for followup. He was also told to return immediately if other symptoms arose or if his existing symptoms worsened. These instructions and procedures are typical given the circumstances. At 3:30am, it stands to reason that a man with no other symptoms than a low fever could do no better than to get some sleep.

    3. Thomas Duncan did not receive a blood transfusion for a very simple reason: there were no available survivors with his blood type. Citing this as evidence that money played a part is illogical. The cost of bringing in someone to donate blood would have been trivial next to the cost of the care he was already receiving. There simply was no valid candidate.

    (I’m going off topic now – Incidentally, we’d do well to remember that the thing preventing many people from getting healthcare isn’t a lack of insurance, but rather the cost of medical care. When medical care is ridiculously expensive, the best solution might not be to find a way to help everyone pay ridiculous prices for healthcare. The best solution might instead be to figure out how to make healthcare less expensive. If we do that, maybe we can save lives AND not bankrupt the country.)

  • Amy Dunne

    Obamacare is little more than an ever-shifting mirage of illusions conjured up to exploit the sympathies of the gullible and the ignorant.