When I read that a North Carolina man had robbed a bank for $1 in order to be put in jail so that he could receive the health care he needed, I was both shocked and moved. Facing two ruptured disks, a growth in his chest, and no job or health insurance, Richard James Verone found himself facing the same question as approximately 28 million other Americans without jobs; what do I do to pay for the care I need without an income to cover the bill?
While Verone’s actions at first glance seems excessive, after all robbing a bank is a slightly extreme step, his story and circumstances are not altogether unique. Gaston County, Verone’s hometown, has a median household income of $39,482, around $5,000 less than the median – slightly below the national average. Verone’s story; working 17 years as a Coca-Cola delivery man, losing his job, and failing to piece together enough to get by afterwards is a story that seems to ring true for many Americans these days.
After handing the teller a note demanding the dollar and claiming he was armed, Richard James Verone sat on a couch next to the door and waited for the police. “I’m sort of a logical person and that was my logic, what I came up with,” he said in response to why he had done it. Verone’s logic seems to be on point; by robbing the bank, he will serve time, receive the Medical care he needs, and walk out of prison just in time to open his first social security check. Putting the realities of prison life aside, I have to ask myself, what would I do with two ruptured disks, a growth in my chest and no job? What would you do?
WiAWH Summer 2011 intern