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Old 08-10-2019, 04:54 PM
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Murder-suicide prompted by medical expenses


This happened near me, between here and Bellingham.

Elderly couple found dead from murder-suicide after they couldn’t afford wife’s healthcare

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A man in Washington state has killed both himself and his wife after raising fears about struggling to pay medical expenses for her ongoing health conditions....

Several notes were left in the home “citing severe ongoing medical problems with the wife and expressing concerns that the couple did not have sufficient resources to pay for medical care”, according to the sheriff’s statement.

[NB: The video in the article is a different occurrence, in California.]

There are things that should not be for-profit. Healthcare is one of them.
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Old 08-10-2019, 05:02 PM
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This is heartbreaking.

So many countries in the world have figured this out, but the resistance here is dug-in and immovable.
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Old 08-10-2019, 05:04 PM
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Bloodthirsty hospital administrators.
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Old 08-10-2019, 05:35 PM
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Just so sad. I'm worried for this country.
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Old 08-10-2019, 07:34 PM
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Not surprised unfortunately. My only surprise is that it doesn't happen more often.

Today, I had to dip into my savings to buy my 60 day asthma inhaler. It costs me forty dollars a month to breathe. And I have insurance. My electricity bill is less than that.

It's obscene.
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Old 08-10-2019, 09:03 PM
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It's tragic, to be sure, and I believe that there is a lot more to the story.
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Old 08-11-2019, 11:12 AM
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Today, I had to dip into my savings to buy my 60 day asthma inhaler. It costs me forty dollars a month to breathe. And I have insurance. My electricity bill is less than that.

It's obscene.
[Looks at own electric bill; is filled with envy.] It's still obscene.

My story came out a lot better. After a rheumatoid arthritis crisis last year the doc started me on samples of Xeljan. I tolerated it well and it was effective so I looked it up on an online PDR. List price was $4,300 a month.

Last month he gave me another sample bottle and had me fill out a patient assistance form to send to Pfizer. Out of curiosity, I looked up what the co-pay would be under Medicare. A bargain at $1,300. A couple weeks later Pfizer called and said their co-pay was $1,100.

I told them that was better than Medicare, but even though the house is paid for I still have utilities and paying the co-pay would leave about $30 a month during the summer for things like, oh, food and gasoline. Winter would be a lot better, if I lasted that long.

They asked be to send in income statements so I faxed* them my various 1099s and W-2s. Three weeks ago they sent three-month supply for zero.

*Who da hell uses faxes any more? Governments and people who deal with them a lot, I guess.
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Old 08-11-2019, 10:20 PM
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[Looks at own electric bill; is filled with envy.] It's still obscene.

My story came out a lot better. After a rheumatoid arthritis crisis last year the doc started me on samples of Xeljan. I tolerated it well and it was effective so I looked it up on an online PDR. List price was $4,300 a month.

Last month he gave me another sample bottle and had me fill out a patient assistance form to send to Pfizer. Out of curiosity, I looked up what the co-pay would be under Medicare. A bargain at $1,300. A couple weeks later Pfizer called and said their co-pay was $1,100.

I told them that was better than Medicare, but even though the house is paid for I still have utilities and paying the co-pay would leave about $30 a month during the summer for things like, oh, food and gasoline. Winter would be a lot better, if I lasted that long.

They asked be to send in income statements so I faxed* them my various 1099s and W-2s. Three weeks ago they sent three-month supply for zero.

*Who da hell uses faxes any more? Governments and people who deal with them a lot, I guess.
They're used a lot in the medical field, and other fields where sending them via Internet is just too risky. I'm glad things worked out for you.
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Old 08-11-2019, 10:24 PM
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[Looks at own electric bill; is filled with envy.] It's still obscene.

My story came out a lot better. After a rheumatoid arthritis crisis last year the doc started me on samples of Xeljan. I tolerated it well and it was effective so I looked it up on an online PDR. List price was $4,300 a month.

Last month he gave me another sample bottle and had me fill out a patient assistance form to send to Pfizer. Out of curiosity, I looked up what the co-pay would be under Medicare. A bargain at $1,300. A couple weeks later Pfizer called and said their co-pay was $1,100.

I told them that was better than Medicare, but even though the house is paid for I still have utilities and paying the co-pay would leave about $30 a month during the summer for things like, oh, food and gasoline. Winter would be a lot better, if I lasted that long.

They asked be to send in income statements so I faxed* them my various 1099s and W-2s. Three weeks ago they sent three-month supply for zero.

*Who da hell uses faxes any more? Governments and people who deal with them a lot, I guess.
And yet on pharmacychecker.com, Xeljanz is $13 a pill total in Canada (so about $800/month total) because in Canada they don't let drug companies charge whatever they want.
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Old 08-10-2019, 09:22 PM
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Insulin costs have went through the roof. It has doubled in the last 2 years. My insurance company insists I attend a monthly diabetic clinic so I get a bit cut off the price of my co-pay. The real savings are the free insulin pens they give out at this clinic. I grab as many as they'll let me have.
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Old 08-10-2019, 09:59 PM
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Insulin costs have went through the roof. It has doubled in the last 2 years. My insurance company insists I attend a monthly diabetic clinic so I get a bit cut off the price of my co-pay. The real savings are the free insulin pens they give out at this clinic. I grab as many as they'll let me have.
This price-gouging is one of the most sickening things I've heard about in recent years.
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Old 08-10-2019, 10:04 PM
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This price-gouging is one of the most sickening things I've heard about in recent years.
Insulin making companies are very good at making slight tweaks in the manufacturing process and the molecule which serve no significant patient benefit, but enable them to claim a new patent and keep exclusivity.

Nobody in the US makes the old style cheaper insulins anymore. Just the molecularly engineered, cell-based stuff which is super high tech.
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Old 08-12-2019, 05:51 AM
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Insulin making companies are very good at making slight tweaks in the manufacturing process and the molecule which serve no significant patient benefit, but enable them to claim a new patent and keep exclusivity.

Nobody in the US makes the old style cheaper insulins anymore.
Why not? OK, the big R&D houses get patents on the new-and-improved insulin and continue to charge big bucks for it. But since the patent is expired on the old stuff, why aren't generic manufacturers cranking out that old stuff and selling it for a fraction of the cost?
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Old 08-10-2019, 10:20 PM
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The health insurance system is obviously terrible, but I'm a little dismayed at the degree to which I've seen this portrayed in the media as a healthcare issue rather than an inexcusable violent crime. This woman died because she was a victim of domestic violence.

Last edited by Lord Feldon; 08-10-2019 at 10:25 PM.
  #15  
Old 08-11-2019, 12:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Lord Feldon View Post
This woman died because she was a victim of domestic violence.
Or it was suicide by husband. It is a healthcare issue because our profit-driven system is not concerned with people's health. It's only concerned with how much money it can make for the CEOs and shareholders. The result is that it drives people into desperation, and sometimes suicide, instead of helping them.

Medical Bills Are the Biggest Cause of US Bankruptcies.
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Old 08-11-2019, 01:10 AM
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Yeah, my default is that murder victims didn't want to die, and abusers are always full of excuses for why it's not their fault.

Dozens of ill and disabled people are murdered by their caregivers every year, and unfortunately this isn't the first time the reporting was implicitly sympathetic to the killer with no good reason:

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When Bonnie Liltz killed her daughter, the Chicago Tribune quoted a family friend saying, “Bonnie deserves an award for the years of sacrifice she gave for her daughter.” When Harry Burroughs killed his daughter and then himself, the Daily Heraldin suburban Chicago ran a piece in which Burroughs’ former partners on the planning commission extolled hm as a “wonderful guy,” and said they would miss him. His daughter’s life received no coverage. The local NBC affiliate in Dawsonville, Georgia, wondered whether the murder of a disabled teenager by his mother was a “possible mercy killing,” using a phrase particularly reviled by the disability community. The affiliate later changed their headline after widespread protest. The New York Timesand many other outlets used William Hager’s murder of his wife, Carolyn, to report on the high cost of prescription drugs for seniors, implicitly giving credence to Hager’s claim that he killed Carolyn over medical costs. Missing was the fact that Carolyn did not ask to die. Emily Kaminski’s murder by her grandmother was called “an act of love” by a friend and sometime caretaker, as reported by local news without further context.

Last edited by Lord Feldon; 08-11-2019 at 01:12 AM.
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Old 08-11-2019, 06:46 AM
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Yeah, my default is that murder victims didn't want to die, and abusers are always full of excuses for why it's not their fault.
Victims of murder, pretty much by definition, don't want to die. Which is why an assisted suicide is not reasonably described as murder, and why those doing the assisting sound to you like they're full of excuses. Everything sounds like a lie when you're not approaching a situation truthfully.
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Old 08-14-2019, 02:06 AM
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The health insurance system is obviously terrible, but I'm a little dismayed at the degree to which I've seen this portrayed in the media as a healthcare issue rather than an inexcusable violent crime. This woman died because she was a victim of domestic violence.
In Spain a few years ago the figure of "domestic violence" was removed from the books and replaced by "gender violence". There is currently a case in the courts* where a man who had just been diagnosed with dementia and who cared for his demented wife and her demented parents killed all four: the gender-violence courts want the case, the government's attorney says it shouldn't be called gender-violence, since gender is clearly not any kind of root cause of it (it's not "I killed her cos she was mine"). That a murder happened in the house doesn't necessarily qualify it as domestic or, using the current Spanish parlance, that it was a man on a woman as gender-triggered (never mind that the gender court is forgetting about the in-laws completely: what, they were flowerpots?).



* That probably nobody will ever be tried doesn't mean there is no need to investigate. One of the main purposes of these judicial investigations is to figure out what went wrong, what failed, so that preventive measures can be put in place. For cases like this, what should be put in place: a better social safety network for ill people, or violence-prevention education?
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Last edited by Nava; 08-14-2019 at 02:09 AM.
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Old 08-10-2019, 11:54 PM
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About half of my fixed SS income goes for insulin and other medical expenses. And that's with Medicare and supplemental insurance. If I were single, and didn't have my husband's income, I'd be dead already, through insufficient insulin or suicide.
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Old 08-11-2019, 09:10 AM
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About half of my fixed SS income goes for insulin and other medical expenses. And that's with Medicare and supplemental insurance. If I were single, and didn't have my husband's income, I'd be dead already, through insufficient insulin or suicide.
If you didn't have any financial assets for the insurance you prefer wouldn't you qualify for (and be subject to) government healthcare?
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Old 08-11-2019, 10:16 AM
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If you didn't have any financial assets for the insurance you prefer wouldn't you qualify for (and be subject to) government healthcare?
He does get government healthcare, Medicare. It's seldom sufficient for all of your expenses.
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Old 08-11-2019, 10:29 AM
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He does get government healthcare, Medicare. It's seldom sufficient for all of your expenses.
Yes but in addition to medicare there is medicaid for those who need it. That's what it's for.
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Old 08-11-2019, 10:50 AM
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Yes but in addition to medicare there is medicaid for those who need it. That's what it's for.
If you qualify. And even with both, medical costs can still be quite prohibitive.

Last edited by cochrane; 08-11-2019 at 10:51 AM. Reason: Auto-incorrect.
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Old 08-11-2019, 10:57 AM
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Yes but in addition to medicare there is medicaid for those who need it. That's what it's for.
He mentions his husband having an income, so that would likely count against his eligibility.

Last edited by Lord Feldon; 08-11-2019 at 10:58 AM.
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Old 08-11-2019, 03:08 PM
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Yes but in addition to medicare there is medicaid for those who need it. That's what it's for.
....ha ha ha.... >snort<... chuckle... thanks, I needed a good laugh!

Oh, wait - - maybe you're serious.

No Medicaid isn't always there for people who need it. It's still the case that in some states an adult male without minor dependents can be completely denied medicaid no matter how sick he is.

There is NO guaranteed medical safety net for anyone in this country and the situation is worse for men than for women.
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Old 08-11-2019, 03:14 PM
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Yes but in addition to medicare there is medicaid for those who need it. That's what it's for.
I have no dependents; it'd be near impossible for me to get Medicaid. Without my husband's income I'd have to choose among food and insulin and water and electricity... not to mention over $2,000 annually in property taxes. I wish I were still physically able to work, but I'm not.

What kind of LaLa land do you live in, where everyone who needs help gets it?
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Old 08-11-2019, 07:29 AM
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There's zero to indicate that this was an assisted suicide.
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Old 08-11-2019, 08:44 AM
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This kind of sympathy affects Canada as well. Years ago, Robert Latimer killed his very disabled daughter Tracy, and the media's reaction was ... ambivalent. Some supported him, some didn't.

Canada recently passed an assisted suicide law. Among other things, the law is supposed to ensure that the person who wants to die actually wants to die.

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There's zero to indicate that this was an assisted suicide.
If the US had an assisted suicide law, there would be proof one way or the other. Simply put, he could have gone through the formal channels, which would of course involve people talking to his wife separately to find out if she actually wanted this. If there were formal channels and he didn't take them, that would be evidence against assisted suicide.
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Old 08-11-2019, 09:52 AM
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If the US had an assisted suicide law, there would be proof one way or the other. Simply put, he could have gone through the formal channels, which would of course involve people talking to his wife separately to find out if she actually wanted this. If there were formal channels and he didn't take them, that would be evidence against assisted suicide.
Washington State, where this occurred, does have an assisted suicide law, as do seven other states and the District of Columbia.
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Old 08-11-2019, 11:01 AM
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Washington State, where this occurred, does have an assisted suicide law, as do seven other states and the District of Columbia.
I didn't know that.

The article didn't mention that he had chosen the legal route. He called the police to say he was going to shoot himself, so this doesn't sound like assisted suicide.
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Old 08-11-2019, 11:13 AM
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I didn't know that.

The article didn't mention that he had chosen the legal route. He called the police to say he was going to shoot himself, so this doesn't sound like assisted suicide.
Even if we accept the murderer's reported justifications at absolute face value (and why should we?), I have a hard time believing that it's legal in any state to have your wife killed because her disability is too expensive. It's usually something that's legal only when you're terminally ill.

Even if she was fully on board with this*, the legal route was probably not available, depending on the exact nature of her illness.

*And my default position is very much that this should not be believed or accepted without a good deal of evidence, and that this should be treated as a dime-a-dozen case of a man abusing a vulnerable woman otherwise.

Last edited by Lord Feldon; 08-11-2019 at 11:16 AM.
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Old 08-11-2019, 07:40 AM
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As a diabetic approaching 65, and one beset by medical bills myself, I can muster quite a bit more sympathy for the couple.
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Old 08-11-2019, 08:17 AM
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Yeah, there were some very fine people on both sides.
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Old 08-11-2019, 08:19 AM
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My grandmother killed herself over medical bills in 1968. Her disease was depression. She was bankrupting the family trying (and failing with 1968 technology) to get better.
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Old 08-11-2019, 12:14 PM
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You don’t know it “drove the couple” to anything. That’s LF’s point. What if the wife was screaming at him to put down the gun, or was asleep and had no idea what he was up to?
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Old 08-11-2019, 12:20 PM
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You don’t know it “drove the couple” to anything. That’s LF’s point. What if the wife was screaming at him to put down the gun, or was asleep and had no idea what he was up to?
You don't know it went down that way, which LF is spinning in the most negative way. Based on similar events I've heard of in the past, I think it's more likely it was an assisted suicide.
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Old 08-11-2019, 12:57 PM
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Yeah, when a woman is dead on the floor at the hands of her husband, I'm perfectly fine assuming that she was a victim and not a participant, until I see some clear and convincing evidence otherwise. I'm highly skeptical that there's any demographic where suicide pacts are more common than domestic violence as a cause of death. And those "similar events" may well have been cases of flat-out murder, based on the other examples I posted of the media sympathising with caregivers-turned-killers.
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Old 08-11-2019, 01:41 PM
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A note in her handwriting asking people not to blame her husband would sure help. Wouldn’t you write something like that if you were a willing participant and did not want your beloved spouse to be forever remembered as a murderer?
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Old 08-11-2019, 04:51 PM
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Yeah, when a woman is dead on the floor at the hands of her husband, I'm perfectly fine assuming that she was a victim and not a participant, until I see some clear and convincing evidence otherwise. I'm highly skeptical that there's any demographic where suicide pacts are more common than domestic violence as a cause of death. And those "similar events" may well have been cases of flat-out murder, based on the other examples I posted of the media sympathising with caregivers-turned-killers.
I know a couple of women who chose to die rather than live with disability, pain, and medical costs.

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A note in her handwriting asking people not to blame her husband would sure help. Wouldn’t you write something like that if you were a willing participant and did not want your beloved spouse to be forever remembered as a murderer?
But yeah, this is suspicious. In the cases I know, they didn't take anyone else with them. One tried to get her grandchildren to kill her, and they refused, because they didn't want to be legally guilty of murder. She ultimately managed to do it herself. Another just refused treatment and died "of natural causes". This sounds like the HUSBAND despaired and decided to kill both of them, not like SHE wanted to die.
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Old 08-11-2019, 05:56 PM
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This sounds like the HUSBAND despaired and decided to kill both of them, not like SHE wanted to die.
Or, if I may stereotype people by their age (mid 70s), she wanted to but was timid about it and/or wasn't comfortable enough with a firearm, whereas he was able to man up and do what they both decided needed doing. I know plenty of older couples, hell middle aged couples even, where that's the dynamic for day to day stuff. I've also known murderous men, and they wouldn't wait until they are well into their 70s to shoot their women and then themselves.

Clearly, I know dookie about their precise situation but the story as presented, without assuming the worst about anyone, makes perfect sense to me and comports to what I know about people that age. Sure: could have been a guy having his fill after 50 years of a woman apparently intent on spending their last dime. But I'd be absolutely stunned if family comes forward and says it was anything other than Dad's most chivalric deed for his wife to date, and that it most likely happened after months of her begging him to top her.

Last edited by Inigo Montoya; 08-11-2019 at 05:57 PM.
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Old 08-11-2019, 06:15 PM
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A note in her handwriting asking people not to blame her husband would sure help. Wouldn’t you write something like that if you were a willing participant and did not want your beloved spouse to be forever remembered as a murderer?
Multiple notes were found, apparently- I haven't seen whose handwriting they were in.
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Old 08-11-2019, 04:36 PM
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I think that anyone who believes aid is easy to get has never had to apply for it.
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Old 08-11-2019, 04:37 PM
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Ditto for anyone who thinks what aid you can get is adequate.
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Old 08-11-2019, 06:07 PM
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Fallacy of the excluded middle. Why can’t it be that he felt he was doing the right thing and being compassionate, but didn’t necessarily get her agreement? That would still be wrong. It would still be first-degree murder, in fact.
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Old 08-11-2019, 06:25 PM
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This happened near me, between here and Bellingham.

Elderly couple found dead from murder-suicide after they couldn’t afford wife’s healthcare




[NB: The video in the article is a different occurrence, in California.]

There are things that should not be for-profit. Healthcare is one of them.
I work in medicare supplements and health plans among other things. This story went around like wildfire in my industry. It is unfortunate, but pretty well agreed upon that this was an avoidable situation had they actual talked with a competent insurance agent. Medicare is actually designed pretty well to make these things very avoidable if people actually seek help. Unfortunately its a complicated system and hard to navigate alone.
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Old 08-11-2019, 09:34 PM
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Does anyone remember this story, which made worldwide headlines at the time? (Didn't realize it was that long ago.)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilbert_v._State
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Old 08-11-2019, 10:02 PM
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Does anyone remember this story, which made worldwide headlines at the time? (Didn't realize it was that long ago.)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilbert_v._State

Interesting!
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Old 08-13-2019, 10:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NAF1138 View Post
Unfortunately its a complicated system and hard to navigate alone.
That is an understatement. On a different aspect of how you can get fucked by the U.S. healthcare system, I posted what happened to me a couple of years ago, see here:

http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/...6&postcount=14

I have the best insurance available to me (an ACA-compliant plan). But for many weeks I thought maybe I was on the hook for about $200,000 for emergency surgery out of state. My insurance company deliberately misled me, and I ultimately had to do my own legal research. I'm lucky that it turns out the law is on my side in New Mexico, whereas in many states I would have had no clear legal protection. And I had to figure out all of this on my own while convalescing from major surgery - there's no help navigating the arcane financial aspects of the US healthcare system, even if you can afford to pay a lawyer. I'm privileged to be well educated, English is my first language, I have financial resources and I'm assertive. But even for me this was a extremely stressful nightmare over an amount of money that could lead someone to bankruptcy and even suicide. Imagine how things are for an elderly person, a busy working single parent, someone who doesn't speak fluent English?

Last edited by Riemann; 08-13-2019 at 10:53 AM.
  #49  
Old 08-13-2019, 11:55 AM
NAF1138 is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: North of Philly
Posts: 10,007
Quote:
Originally Posted by Riemann View Post
That is an understatement. On a different aspect of how you can get fucked by the U.S. healthcare system, I posted what happened to me a couple of years ago, see here:

http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/...6&postcount=14

I have the best insurance available to me (an ACA-compliant plan). But for many weeks I thought maybe I was on the hook for about $200,000 for emergency surgery out of state. My insurance company deliberately misled me, and I ultimately had to do my own legal research. I'm lucky that it turns out the law is on my side in New Mexico, whereas in many states I would have had no clear legal protection. And I had to figure out all of this on my own while convalescing from major surgery - there's no help navigating the arcane financial aspects of the US healthcare system, even if you can afford to pay a lawyer. I'm privileged to be well educated, English is my first language, I have financial resources and I'm assertive. But even for me this was a extremely stressful nightmare over an amount of money that could lead someone to bankruptcy and even suicide. Imagine how things are for an elderly person, a busy working single parent, someone who doesn't speak fluent English?
Yeah and the under 65 medical system is especially messed up. Medicare does work better than that.
  #50  
Old 08-12-2019, 01:28 PM
Shodan is online now
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Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Milky Way Galaxy
Posts: 39,614
IANAD, but there is a discussion of why generic insulin isn't widely available here.

Also, there is a "regulatory dead zone" where if you submit an application and it isn't approved before next March 23, 2020, it will be automatically rejected. And the pharma companies can't use any currently approved forms of insulin to show that the new generic form is safe and effective until after that.

It's complicated, and an example of how regulations don't always do what is intended, even when those intentions are good. And also not necessarily "big pharma is evil price-gougers cackling insanely while their customers die while they wring a few more dollars out of sick old people".

Regards,
Shodan
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