It Cost $648K to Save Her. Here's Why That Didn't Ruin Her

Molly Osberg on the illness that nearly killed her
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 1, 2018 2:00 PM CST
Updated Feb 4, 2018 7:09 AM CST
A stock photo of a hospital room.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – It cost $648,221.53 to keep Molly Osberg alive. Well, it didn't personally cost her that much. The cut insurance had her pay was $2,654.42, and in a long piece for Splinter, she does two things: chart her extreme and sudden illness, and make the case that it could have ruined (or even ended) her life, but because of timing and circumstances (insurance, paid sick leave, a state with a short-term disability program) not afforded to many Americans, she came out the other side. Osberg started feeling sick in mid-June 2017. When she couldn't brush her teeth without bile coming up, she saw a doctor who sent her straight to a Brooklyn hospital. She was in septic shock, caused by a rare form of strep "that incubated in my lung before bursting a [golf ball-sized] hole clear through it."

She was given a 50% chance of making it through a surgery that would "scoop out" the necrotic tissue. She did, and ultimately was able to go home, where she spent weeks more in bed. "If no one was around to prop me up, I just lay there on my back," using a semi-permanent IV to pump antibiotics into her body three times a day, she writes. Her employer covered half her salary; New York's STD program paid about the same. By the end of the summer she was able to go back to work, though not before her nails fell off, "a months-delayed reminder of that time my body was preparing to die." Osberg ends with this: "I am lucky not for surviving the infection, but for being a member of a shrinking class of Americans whose lives can absorb a trauma of this magnitude." Read her full story here.

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