"Hope and Despair in
the Health Insurance Jungle"
Stories of "real people" shed light on
emerging healthcare issues now faced by Congress
in the leadup to the 2008 presidential election.

From East Carolina U
Home of
the Brody School of Medicine

ECU student journalists dig deep to
bring alive real life stories of
how medical insurance - or its lack -
shapes the fabric of American life

By student journalists of BASIC REPORTING, 2320
INSTRUCTOR: Frederic A. Moritz

American Healthcare: an outsider's view, Tony Zoppo reports on how one doctor from India sees American medical insurance and healthcare.

"Being without health insurance was the most nerve wracking thing I ever had to do," Laura Keeling reports on the panic college students can feel when "dropping out" means loss of health insurance.

A dark cloud in a silver lining, Allison Johnston reports on how extraordinary medical insurance saved a son from kidney Nephrosis, but the recovered patient's loss of a driver's license cost medical insurance for the future.

Topping it off with Ben & Jerry's, Holly Osborne reports on the burdens doctors can bear to get themselves treated even as they tend others, including their own children.

A good buy if you can get it, Phillip Spence reports on 31 year old who benefits from an increasingly scarce form of on the job health insurance which has long been the American dream.

Staying cheerful while living on the edge, James Lewis explores an 86 year old's journey through the world of Medicare and Social Security

Between Medicaid and O'Charley's, Laura Byron reports on how a single mother restaurant server seeks to navigate between government and private insurance.

When you raise a frisky kid, insurance can cushion the falls, David Wright reports on a school teacher dad who finds employer health insurance a safety net for his boy.

Missing good healthcare? "Serve Your Time," Kathryn McCullough reports on the extensive health care system found within the vast sprawling walls of America's prison system.

A non profit opens a wide health insurance umbrella, Asa A. Gregory reports on how the Presbyterian Church sets an example for healthcare coverage, including a campaign to insure children.

A single mother finds the healthcare trap deep, Ronald Pou reports on how one young mother combines faith and and a search for a better job with benefits to protect her children's health.

A working nurse struggles to keep her family healthy, Carrie Richardson reports on one mother's struggle to keep health insurance.

How the Medicaid "safety net" can work, Rebecca Decker reports on one cheerful child who, protected by Medicaid, has begun to play sweet music on the viola.

When the job went, so did the great insurance, Amy Joannou reports on a former computer press operator who hopes she can regain benefits on a new job.

Missing a good HMO, Erin DeHart reports on a stricken child caught between Blue Cross coverage and the stronger HMO coverage her mother has lost.

Pros and cons of socialized medicine
The Physicians Desk Reference: a guide to everything

These stories of "real people" will shed light on the three emerging healthcare issues for the 2004 Presidential election:
A) Medical insurance for the uninsured
B) The high cost of prescription drugs
C) Prescription drugs for Medicare

The issues are interrelated.

Student journalists interviewed a rich variety of people. Although any one interview will be partial, the body of interviews as as whole should give us a varied, not mono-dimensional view.

For this project we have focused on the
telling of story: helping the person we interview to convey their experience as they navigate the health care system.

As people tell their stories by sharing their
experience, a journalist witnesses, spotlights, and communicates issues affecting the nation.

We have shed light on the story of health care by focusing on different "types" of people: for example the healthy well insured; the unhealthy well insured; the healthy poorly insured; the unhealthy poorly insured.

Some of these types are subdivided into persons who approach health preventatively and those who cope mainly on a crisis basis.

Our common story "thread" is how individuals navigate through, cope with a complicated system, in sickness and in health, with insurance and without, in success and failure, in hope and in despair.

We will deal with story as defined by Pulitzer prize winning science writer Jon Franklin in
Writing for Story, as cited on page 71:

"A sequence of actions that occur when a sympathetic character encounters a complicating situation that he confronts and solves."


Jon Franklin

Chuckle over a parody of Franklin's approach, then click on the original of his To Make a Mouse.