Why would someone rob a bank for $1?

If there was any doubt about just how far out of whack our healthcare system is in the US, look no further.

This story featured on Reader Supported News, originally featured in the UK’s Guardian newspaper, details James Verone and the most unusual of bank robberies. James robbed a bank for $1, just to get arrested so he could be seen by a doctor. (He was charged with “stealing from a person”, not actual bank robbery, as the prosecutors think they couldn’t make the latter charge stick.)

The former Coca-Cola delivery man of 17 years was unfortunately let go by the beverage conglomerate (the article does not say how long ago), and lost his health insurance along with his job.

You’ll notice I’m referring to James by his first name, which ordinarily means by convention he’s one of the “good guys.” It is a bit difficult for me to take side with a bank robber. However, in this case, it’s not about the money; it’s about things one cannot reasonably be expected to quantify with an amount of money: self-preservation, health, and dignity. On one hand, I applaud James’s ingenity and resolve. At the same time, I’m saddened and horrified that anyone should feel they have to do something like this to be able to see a doctor.

In countries with sane healthcare systems, this simply does not happen. This is the strongest argument in favor of healthcare reform I have seen to date. Even if we get it wrong, even if Obamacare turns out to be a disaster of a different sort, it’s still an attempt to fix the problem. And there is no doubt in my mind that there is a problem.

To those against healthcare reform as it stands: if Obamacare is not the answer, what is? How much longer are we going to let insurance companies set the price of healthcare, getting great group deals for their policyholders and setting up people like James to be hung out to dry?