Antonio is only marginally a paying patient, because he is an undocumented immigrant. But he's exactly the sort of patient who does well with a donated heart: he's relatively young (40ish), employed, and shows every sign being able to comply with aftercare protocols. There's really only one thing standing between him and a good place on the transplant list: no part of the "health safety net" will pay for the anti-rejection drugs that would keep his new heart beating. It would be irresponsible to place him on a transplant list if the heart might not survive for lack of follow up care. So Antonio's doctors are now scrambling to make visa arrangements so that some of his family can visit him before he dies.
A story by ace reporter Nina Bernstein in the New York Times makes it clear the Antonio's plight is not unique.
Go read it all.
We hear a lot about how the U.S. medical system is inefficient and excessively costly. We could do with more awareness that this jerry-built edifice is also simply insane -- and deadly.