Jewel was homeless and couldn’t get medical treatment without insurance

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I just watched Jewel on the Today show thinking at first that I probably wouldn’t cover that story. She has a new children’s album out called The Merry Goes ‘Round. She explained that it’s a multi-genre effort that she put together by collaborating remotely while she was pregnant and later while caring for her now three month-old son, Kase. (I still think of “cheese” whenever I hear that kid’s name, I can’t help it!) Jewel impressed me so much with her story. This may be old news to some of you, so please humor me while I repeat it. I vaguely remember hearing that Jewel went through some hard times at the beginning of her career, but I never knew how desperate it was for her. She told Kathy Lee and Hoda that she was living out of her car after her boss fired her for not accepting his sexual advances. Then she was very sick with kidney problems and couldn’t get admitted to the hospital because she didn’t have insurance.

On Kase
I hit the baby lotto. He’s just a really sweet, easy-going little boy. I’m so lucky.

On her ten year relationship with Ty Murray before marriage
I pretended it was fine, I pretended it was cool but [whispers] it really wasn’t.

On being homeless and not being able to afford medical care
I ended up homeless because my boss propositioned me and when I wouldn’t sleep with him he didn’t give me my paycheck. I got kicked out of where I was living my rent was due that next day. I thought “Well, I’ll live in my car for a minute… get back on my feet,” but I had bad kidneys and I never could hold down another job because I got sick so often. I didn’t have insurance and ended up almost dying in the parking lot of an emergency room because they wouldn’t admit me because I didn’t have insurance. I ended up homeless for about a month and I went back to singing.

I’ve always loved the song “Who Will Save Your Soul,” and now that I know Jewel’s backstory it makes so much sense to me. She sings about sexual harassment at work, not being able to afford the bills, and feeling less worthy than other people. If it takes a famous singer to remind us of the fact that there are people who are not getting treatment that they need, so be it. Half of all bankruptcies in America are caused by medical bills.

Here’s a link to Jewel’s new kids’ album. She’s doing great now and she seems like she’s so happy to be a mom.

Jewel is shown at the Emmy Awards on 8/29/11. Credit:



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93 Responses to “Jewel was homeless and couldn’t get medical treatment without insurance”

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  1. Kyla says:

    Love love love Jewel. And I didn’t know it was even legal to refuse to admit someone to the emergency room regardless of their insurance situation. Hopefully I don’t get sick, because I have no insurance.

  2. Embee says:

    I really like her and her music. She seems to have pretty good taste in husbands, as well.

  3. Rita says:

    Jewel’s a jewel. Her life is full now with a very good man in Ty. Look back to appreciate the present and be determined about the future.

  4. jen says:

    I spent 8 days in ICU with pneumonia & sepsis at the beginning of this year with no insurance. The hospital was more than willing to work out a payment plan for me. Sorry but I call B.S on that story.

  5. Obvious says:

    @Kyla it is no longer legal for them to do that. I didn’t know it was legal at some point but at least in Cali you are entitled to emergency care regardless of your ability to pay.

    I have always loved Jewel, I am now going to go find her first CD (which has always been my fav) and enjoy it here at work :)

  6. cmc says:

    Wow…and she was homeless as a little girl too, wasn’t she? I remember reading that her family lived out of a van. So sad, but makes me so happy that she’s rich and famous now. I’m happy for her, and her experience has given her depth especially when compared to, say, Taylor Swift.

  7. anne_000 says:

    Thank you Celebitchy for bringing attention to the state of healthcare in America. I have known people who suffered greatly because of the cost of insurance, the lack of it, and high medical bills. Some of these people I know have died because of these issues.

    IIRC, either you or Kaiser live in Europe, where the healthcare system isn’t as harsh as it is here. I hope one day we can catch up with the rest of the 1st world countries.

  8. Dani says:

    I am calling foul on the medical story. If you come in through ER and are found to need treatment, due to the federal EMTALA laws, you cannot be refused treatment, insurance or no insurance. It carries huge federal fines for a violation. EMTALA was passed into law in 1986.

  9. gee says:

    That must be so scarry to be sick with no options. I had no health insurance for about a six months and I was very nervous the whole time. I know there are options if you make less than a certain amount (it differs by state) you can get coverage, like Medicaid.

  10. Kimbob says:

    Wow…just WOW! Jewel has an awe-inspiring story. I have a newfound respect for her.

  11. Elizabeth S. says:

    I call BS. On pretty much all of this.

    No hospital could refuse someone from the ER because they don’t have insurance. And notice that she doesn’t explain how she didn’t die, which strongly implies that she was admitted anyway.

    And no, half of all bankuptcies are not due to medical bills. The only reports that get that are unconvincing at best:

    And can we get over the “Jewel was homeless, homeless, HOMELESS – omigosh did I mention she was HOMELESS” rubbish?

    “Why it’s a Load of Crap:

    “First, the stuff about her childhood. Her family didn’t go without running water because they were poor. Jewel’s father elected to drop out of society to live of the land, and settled in Alaska to do so. They were hippies, not hobos.

    “Jewel’s upbringing was unconventional, sure, but at least she didn’t grow up in homeless shelters like true badasses such as KRS One, Tupac Shakur and … Shania Twain.

    “…all musicians live in their car for a while. Legally, you’re not allowed to call yourself a musician unless you’ve got some sort of transient-living under your belt.

    “Again, we’re not just talking about hard asses like Kurt Cobain, whose biography includes a spell camping out under a bridge. Creed lead “singer” Scott Stapp and Matchbox 20 front”man” Rob Thomas lived in their cars while pursuing the dream.”

    I’m actually so sick of her whining. Not even the rappers who actually came from nothing whine as much as she does. Just shut up already!

  12. anne_000 says:

    @3 Obvious – It’s only illegal for non-admittance if it’s an emergency situation only. Otherwise, the ERs won’t admit you for ongoing treatments like for cancer, kidney problems, diabetes, etc.

    If you have a broken arm or are bleeding profusely, they will set it for you or stitch up the blood vessel (both at your cost). For any treatment afterwards for your injuries, the ER will tell you to seek out a regular doctor.
    @5 Dani – The EMTALA law deals only with emergency situations. It requires that an ER examines you to see if you are in need of emergency treatment. If you are, then it requires either stablizing treatment or transfer to another facility for treatment.

  13. brin says:

    I knew about her living out of her car and after all her success she seems like a genuinely nice person who appreciates her life. Love her and her family.

  14. BooBooKitty says:

    Such a backwards country.

  15. Elizabeth S. says:


    As an actual European with extensive experience of the various European healthcare systems, I’d like to request that Americans stop talking about how awesomely awesome they apparently are.

    They’re not. They’re awful and going bankrupt. Private insurance is the only way to go – unless, of course, the dicks in government legally prevent you from getting it. (And then either go abroad or keep bumped to the top of the queue.)

    The NHS, for instance, is a monstrosity that is a government handout to the middle classes, to buy their vote. Note that they’re the ones fighting tooth and nail to keep it as is – the poor are treated like shit.

    No, I don’t want the American system either. But I wish Americans wouldn’t proclaim their love of Europe so unthinkingly. It’s not a rational way of thinking; it’s a way of showing social status: “Look at meeeee! I support Yooorup unlike all those hicks!”

  16. Elizabeth S. says:


    Jewel said she “ended up almost dying” because the hospital wouldn’t admit her. That meant that the ER would have had to take her, and the “almost” part says they did.

    Her constant talk about her haaaaard life is a PR stunt. There are tons of musicians out there who have had far harder times and don’t use it for attention.

  17. anne_000 says:

    @11 Elizabeth S – Actually, Celebitchy is correct about this issue.
    “Medical bills prompt more than 60 percent of U.S. bankruptcies

    June 05, 2009

    This year, an estimated 1.5 million Americans will declare bankruptcy. Many people may chalk up that misfortune to overspending or a lavish lifestyle, but a new study suggests that more than 60 percent of people who go bankrupt are actually capsized by medical bills.

    Bankruptcies due to medical bills increased by nearly 50 percent in a six-year period, from 46 percent in 2001 to 62 percent in 2007, and most of those who filed for bankruptcy were middle-class, well-educated homeowners, according to a report that will be published in the August issue of The American Journal of Medicine”
    “Study Links Medical Costs and Personal Bankruptcy
    Harvard researchers say 62% of all personal bankruptcies in the U.S. in 2007 were caused by health problems—and 78% of those filers had insurance ”

  18. Seal Team 6 says:

    It is totally legal for any medical professional or any medical institution to deny non-emergency health care to anyone. We are the only First World nation to treat our citizens so horribly.

    And, I’ll say that Jewel and her siblings didn’t ask for her parents to go all Jeremiah Johnson, anymore than the Phoenix kids asked to be raised in a psycho sexually-abusive cult.

  19. anne_000 says:

    @15/16 Elizabeth S – You’re making my point. She almost had to die in order to be applicable under the EMTALA law. Only then did it become an emergency, but the only treatment the ER is required to give under the law is to stablize &/or transfer to another facility.

    All I said was that the American healthcare system is HARSHER than the European version. This is ABSOLUTELY CORRECT. You do not want to get really sick here in America with or without PRIVATE insurance & without enough pocket money to cover all the things that PRIVATE insurance corporations will NOT pay for as well as you first having to meet the high deductibles before the PRIVATE insurance corporations deign to pay even a penny.

    I know of what I speak, as I have had an aunt start working at over 60 yrs old in order to pay off medical bills for her husband on top of having to spend all their retirement money on the costs. Btw, my uncle committed suicide due to depression over the financial costs & his not being able to get treatment & physical therapy to help him continue his life in at least some comfort.

    Also, I have known someone whose father had to decide either to get lung cancer treatment or sell the house & leave his wife & young child homeless.

    I’ve read about healthcare enough to know that the US is, on the whole, more dire for those in need than it is in Western Europe.

  20. j says:

    Don’t you remember when she came between RObin and Sean Penn and she moved in with Sean on the beach in Malibu for a while.. she is no saint.. having said that I still like her. SOmetimes we do dumb selfish stuff when we are young.

  21. Elizabeth S. says:


    And you’re proving mine. The US healthcare system actually has a safety net. It’s shitty, but it’s there. People aren’t dying in the streets, and half of all bankruptcies are NOT because of medical bills.

    The real problem is the fact that health insurance is STILL tied to work, which is one of the few advantages I’ll give to Europe. I lose my job, I still have my insurance.

    The Euro-worship bullshit also hides the fact that no one here has any idea how to maintain any semblance of the shitty safety net we have. Everything has been going bankrupt for years; we’ve just been able to use enough legerdemain to hide it enough so that, if you don’t want to see it, you won’t.

  22. Dani says:

    @Ann – You are correct. If her labs were totally out of whack for her kidney function, then she would have qualified for admission and or transfer to another facility. She would not have been denied care out of the ER in a case such as this.

    Another scenario could be that her lab values, CT scan, etc.. didn’t qualify her for admission and she was told to seek help from her Dr. That is a totally different story. So her story depends on the scenario. The general public does not understand often times that just because one feels sick does not mean you will automatically get a hospital bed. Hard to know what exactly she means about being refused care.

    However, if you walk into an ER, you have to be evaluated by a Dr.

    I am an ER nurse and know what I speak of.

  23. bros says:

    elizabeth, she is actually from my hometown and I saw her perform before she was anybody and she was indeed living out of a van at the time trying to make herself happen. the kilcher family is an old homesteading family, and lots of people in my town didnt have running water and had to haul it from the grocery store-it was entirely normal in Homer. her dad was both of my brother’s music teachers and I used to do performances with her aunt.

  24. anne_000 says:

    @20 Dani – You’re right. If a person walks into the ER with a situation, then by law, the ER has to check the person to see if an emergency situation exists. If not, then they are not required to treat the person.

  25. kay says:

    Jewel(ry) Kase.

  26. anne_000 says:

    edit: I meant to say:

    “Also, I have known someone whose father had to decide either to get lung cancer treatment by selling the house & leaving his wife & young child homeless OR not getting the treatment he needed thereby being able to leave enough assets for his family to live on for a while after he was gone.”

  27. the other mel says:

    Wow, some of the posters here really show a lack of empathy. Way harsh, Tai.

  28. John says:

    I’d love to ask Jewel how she thinks her supposed bootleg magically got to the radio stations, or how she managed to get her life back on track from living in a car playing coffee shops in Oceanside, CA. I had a teacher in elementary school who lived in Oceanside, Mrs. Judy Perry. Mrs. Perry had a knack for seeing the best in people and discovering talent. If it wasn’t for her, I may have never applied myself. She told a story to the GATE class she taught about a young woman she had met at a coffee shop near her house. She helped this young woman put together a press packet, portfolio, even helped record her music so she could send it to radio stations. She even played some of the music in class. After helping her get her start and on her feet, this young woman seemed to completely forget Mrs. Perry and the help she gave.

    I invited Mrs. Perry to my high school graduation as she had been such great support and inspiration for me. She had retired from teaching a few years before, and it was nice to catch up with her. After catching her up on my accomplishments to that point, and my plans for the future, I felt bad for talking about myself too much. After hearing about family and how retirement was, I had happened to ask in passing if she had ever heard from Jewel after all the success. This nearly brought Mrs. Perry to tears. She said she had never heard from her after she was signed and touring. Apparently she had played a private show for those she needed to thank for all the help they gave her, but Mrs. Perry had been neglected in the invitations. She had never been acknowledged in thanks in album fold outs, or in any sort.

    Now I know this is second hand information, and I haven’t spoken to Mrs. Perry for about 6 years, but I’d be interested to hear her take and side more accurately in all this. She may not want to go into details about this as she is such a kind woman and would not want to speak badly about someone. But I guess I don’t have qualms about doing so, especially when it comes to not acknowledging those who deserve it.

  29. lucy2 says:

    Regardless of who’s had it worse than her, living in your car because you have nowhere else to go is having it tough and being homeless. I still think it’s a good story about talent and ambition finding success, and she’s always seemed appreciative of what she’s earned now.

  30. Ell says:

    Elizabeth S – you’re wrong about Jewel but you’ll obviously believe what you want.

    As regards the NHS, utter rubbish. It’s a system that’s worked for over 60 years. It’s paid for by employers, employees and the state. Everybody who is a UK citizen and has a NI number is entitled to free healthcare. It works because there is no divide between classes. Unfortunately in recent years there are problems within the NHS but that’s more to do with poor management and bad decisions by government.

  31. anne_000 says:

    @21 Elizabeth S- “And you’re proving mine. The US healthcare system actually has a safety net. It’s shitty, but it’s there. People aren’t dying in the streets, and half of all bankruptcies are NOT because of medical bills.”

    There is no safety net. Either you have money to pay for treatment or you don’t. Insurance doesn’t cover everything, & they have committees to find out ways on how NOT to pay for coverage. The only way you can get medicaid is if you qualify under the state’s requirement, which is strict in itself, and/or if the state actually does cover the treatment you require &/or the budget exists for such, that is if you are eligible for medicaid. Many people who have low income STILL do not qualify for the program. They’re caught in between the very poor & those able to afford to pay out-of-pocket for some kind of insurance.

    Yes, there are people here who are dying on the streets for lack of healthcare, whether physical or mental.

    That Atlantic Monthly article you’ve posted is actually an OP-ED. It’s just her opinion of various studies that show that most American’s personal bankruptcies ARE due to medical expenses.

    Also, I found it odd why she wrote “if we had really good data on the average percentage of medical bankruptcies, they wouldn’t be studying the question.” Why then would she be against the existence of such studies since they are based on collecting data? Where else would the data be accessible in a single comprehensive form if nobody is accumulating the data?

  32. aenflex says:

    ya’ll always talking about hendricks and vergara – WELL – look at jewels rack. thats the best rack i’ve seen in a while

  33. Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

    Thank-you, Elizabeth!

    She’s been Shania Twain-ing her life story since before Shania was even born. I’m not claiming to be Queen of Poverty, but she should stop making it harder on herself by exaggerations more plausible and airtight. I was never a fan of MadTv, but I do remember a skit in which a fan of Jewel’s could win a prize by spending some time with her in a cabin in Alaska. This contest winner went from exuberant to doubtful to enervated to enraged because she only strummed her guitar and made up melodies that showcased her talent for reminding people that she lived in a car. I’m hazy on the details, but I think there’s truth with some distortions there, too.

    Explain this to me (and Pink): Say you put out a single that’s three and a half minutes of audio scolding, followed by a parody or satire (ye gods) of modern media and the sex kitten, and then engage in all of those trite depictions for the sake of ‘commentary’, aren’t you still the woman who still got herself sprayed with a water hose?

    I don’t know, all of the repetitive pandering dressed at wisdom childing got tiring around 1997. I normally have no quarrel with the idea of artists letting their music be used in commercials, but for Mama Bear to take a break from educating us after penning verses talking about selling out and cashing in, it seemed odd that the very same song appeared in commercials about intuitive shaving. That’s just what I think. Well, I think her music’s been intolerably dreary since 1998, but that’s not important, you win some, you have your tastes radically changed and sell some to a used cd store.

  34. Turd Fergussen says:

    In 2007, I walked into an emergency room after I fell face first on a glass and slit the side of my face open. I had Xrays, great treatment and the hospital even called in the plastic surgeon on call that night to spend 5 hours stitching me up.

    I was never once asked for insurance.

  35. e.non says:

    #34 — try that today. that’s the first thing asked for in any doctor’s office and any hospital admissions. either you walked away without paying or put it all on your credit card.

    it’s stunning to read so many comments about teh awesomeness that is u.s. healthcare. what a load of crap. it’s not only the bankruptcies; people are denying themselves medications and treatments because of no job/no insurance.

    not to mention the endless efforts to find and deny claims for those who actually do think they have insurance. imagine your job is to read thru someone’s claim for coverage for breast cancer — and then denying it. what kind of greedy, scumbag would want a job like that? oops, i guess i answered my own question.

  36. cz says:

    As someone who has worked on and off for many years at jobs that didn’t offer insurance (and at times was jobless), I can tell you that there is a separate price for people without medical insurance and it is much cheaper than what they charge an insurance company. And I was never refused by a hospital.

    I can also tell you that you can still purchase insurance without it being attached to a job. It is called an Individual Plan. I purchased my own Individual Plan…a little more expensive than my current job related plan.

    Insurance can be affordable but it’s people who would rather spend that money on shopping, a bigger car, or other material things rather than putting their own healthcare first.

    Yes, I agree that a certain percentage of people can’t actually afford it, but there are systems in place for those people. But the people who can afford it are the ones who choose not to put their healthcare first and leave it up to chance. I was one of those people for a long time, as were many people I knew throughout my twenties.

    A lot of it comes down to taking personal responsibility for yourself and making priorities, which is something I realized when I entered my thirties. People don’t take that into consideration when these percentages come out.

  37. k says:

    @jen: it really depends upon the state or municipality to mandate/provide opportunities for treatment for those without insurance. Also, individual hospitals have different levels of funding for such matters.

  38. k says:

    @cz: Your personal purchase of insurance does in no way guarantee that your insurance will cover your medical bills at all. They may deny 100% payment. Also, there are many people who get rejected by insurance companies bc of in-utero exposure and other predisposed conditions.

    Stop making sweeping generalizations and assumptions. Not everyone is born equal or granted equal privileges, even if those people try to buy insurance.

  39. anniecc says:

    @Elizabeth S being an American living in Europe doesn’t make you European.

  40. mymy says:

    CZ is correct.My state has child health plus it is real ins. You pick the company all tops. You pay between 10 and 150 per family and no co pays nothing everything is covered. No one is denied. And then there is family health plus.
    I pay for my own plan and budget my life accordingly. I pay plenty. But my health is my responsibility.Would I rather eat out and take vacations. Yes. But I don’t want to risk losing everything. So I am doing what needs to be done.
    And yes they do treat you and then many people don’t pay the bills. They won’t lose their home because they have no home. She would have just racked up large bills.And not payed

  41. KB_explosion says:

    you guys are arguing about health care & insurance & it kind of doesn’t matter because we’ve established (#11 & #28) that she is a liar, and lies accordingly when it benefits her.
    gives more of a dramatic flare when she ‘almost died’ in her car even though she had a roof over her head provided by a woman who also would’ve taken her to get medical care.
    jewel – BITCH PLEASE

  42. K says:

    As someone who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer without health insurance, and yet managed to get the whole thing covered (and we’re talking close to $200K by the time my surgery, treatment, post-treatment and post-surgical complications were sorted), I can tell you for a fact that anyone who cannot get their medical care paid for because they don’t have insurance or the cash isn’t trying hard enough. My husband is an entrepreneur. We were just getting the point where we could purchase health insurance, when I was diagnosed. Yes, it’s a boatload of paperwork. Yes, it’s a bureaucratic nightmare, with inept people who clock out the minute they step into their government agency job. But if it’s really worth the care, well, you’ll dig out your W2′s and work on proving your income level. I estimate I spent nearly 100+ hours over the course of my treatment dealing with bureaucrats, digging up paperwork, filing forms, waiting on hold, etc., but it was worth it to not have a $200K stone hanging around my neck.

    Emergency rooms will not send you away if you are in dire need of care. It’s illegal to do so. Any hospital worth their salt has a business office or a social worker who can help you apply for programs that will make sure they get paid, or at the very least make sure the bill gets written off. It’s in their best interest to do so—it’s how they keep the doors open. Furthermore, EVERYONE in the medical profession, oncologists down to dentists, takes visa. Fun fact: if you write them a check right there, they will usually give you 20 to 50% off the cost of the bill, so, yes, you technically will be paying less than if you had coughed up for a monthly premium. Medical professionals will ALWAYS work with you regarding payment plans. They want you to get well.

    I’m sorry to sound harsh, but, really, if I can do it, anyone can manage to get at least some of their bills taken care of. There is a safety net out there—you just have to find your way to it.

  43. Stacia says:

    Good for her…she did not sell out or sell her body at the beginning of her career like Thomas Jane did.

  44. Jessie says:

    I’m an American an I lived in the UK for 6 years. My husband and I came to the states in 2006 to visit family, and I was pregnant at the time. The exact day after flying over, I started bleeding and was rushed to the emergency room. The staff there would not let me get treatment until my husband could provide insurance info or some sort of guarantee of payment, and pretty much left me there to bleed out until he went mental at them and told them to just put everything on all his credit cards if they had to.

    I miscarried and obviously it wasn’t their fault I did, but that was one of the worst experiences I ever had and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. And I was treated by the NHS as well while I was over there, and yes they’re system isn’t perfect, but I wouldn’t have been treated the way I was over there IMO.

  45. Jessie says:

    And it may be illegal to send you away, but I doesn’t mean there aren’t places that won’t try it…

  46. Elizabeth S, dear God you talk a pile of shit.

    “The NHS, for instance, is a monstrosity that is a government handout to the middle classes, to buy their vote. Note that they’re the ones fighting tooth and nail to keep it as is – the poor are treated like shit”

    The NHS has no class system, go into any Accident and Emergency on a friday night and that should be made very clear to you, it is a system that albeit yes, the hospitals are a bit antiquated now [in Glasgow anyway], WORKS, and we are so lucky to have it. I don’t know where you are from but by your chat you have no idea what you are twittering on about. Please stop with the guff.

  47. Erinn says:

    haha, I love that someone mentioned that cracked article. I was about to post it myself.

    I’m not sure what to think about the girl… fans seem to push the homeless and living in a van thing so much. In the case mentioned in the article, I say good for her, and it’s a shame with what happened. But the childhood living in a van thing seems exagerated. To me they just seemed like hippy dippy kind of people who wanted to do that sort of thing.

  48. Shannon says:

    I have to read insurance denial letters all the time. I work in a clinic, specifically with all the paperwork (including all insurance letters).

    I don’t have a personal story. I have thousands of others’ personal stories. I can’t share a lot of specifics because of HIPPA laws, but I must say there’s nothing more heartbreaking than a disabled senior citizen begging for some help, only to be denied.

    I guess these people just aren’t trying hard enough, right? They can’t even get out of bed or bathe themselves in a lot of cases, they often deal with degenerative problems like Alzheimer’s and dementia, but they should be expected to personally take on an huge insurance company’s appeals process. That is ABSURD. If you don’t see a problem with this system, I really have to wonder what planet you live on. Expecting the sickest and most vulnerable members of our society to fight for their own healthcare at a time when they are at their most ill is inhumane.

  49. Elizabeth S. says:

    @Cycling No Horses:

    Please stop talking bullshit. The postcode lottery is a severe problem. It’s nice that it works for you, but try to think about other peoples’ experience, m’kay? (Just following your lead when it comes to tone):

    And yes, the NHS treats the poor with complete and utter contempt:

    “The middle classes, who tend to live in parts of Britain where public services in general are in quite good nick, have done pretty well from the NHS.

    “The rest of Britain, those who have been notable by their absence on “Save our NHS” protests, has not. For them, the NHS is no longer a glorious postwar invention…”

    I would never suggest that the American system does not need radical change. In fact, every healthcare system needs radical change. The NHS is not a solution.

  50. jc126 says:

    #48 – Shannon – clearly, these disabled people just don’t want it bad enough to get off their disabled, immobile asses and go to work and get health insurance. Let’s stop enabling sick people, starting with those damn cancer patients!!

    Total sarcasm of course! I agree, anyone who doesn’t see a problem has – currently, not necessarily forever – good insurance and has an “I’ve got mine” attitude. They’ll change their tune if they ever lose that coverage or get bounced off the insurance if heaven forbid they get sick. While the rest of the civilized world has universal coverage, the U.S. gets to be under the grip of the ins. cos.

  51. Jessie says:

    Elizabeth I can’t believe you’re quoting someone’s opinion piece on the Guardian, for f— sake. Editorial pieces are NOT fact.

  52. the original bellaluna says:

    Welcome to California; specifically, San Diego County. Not ALL hospitals “have” to treat you; they can send you away or send you to another facility.

    It depends entirely on funding.

    (Now, have your baby on the I-15 or the I-5, and that’s another story. And don’t bitch at me for telling the truth.)

  53. Elizabeth S. says:


    (1) Try reading the links. No, really, actually read them. I know you haven’t even clicked on them because – wait for it…

    There’s no Guardian opinion piece.

    (2) It’s more than you’ve provided.

  54. Lucinda says:

    I find it interesting that no one is commenting on the fact that Jewel managed to pick herself up by her bootstraps and be successful. She didn’t just give up. That’s the lesson here.

    Yes, the situation is crap and there are a lot of problems but whining doesn’t help. Do something about it. For every person who really can’t help themselves, there is at least one other person who could but chooses not to. That is why there is such a heavy burden on the system. It those who could, would, then the help would be available for those who can’t.

  55. G says:

    Americans are so in denial about their crappy health care. According to the World Heath Organization it ranks 37th in the world.

  56. IrishEyes says:

    I am not commenting on healthcare at all. However, I have an existing disabling disease and have known about it for 18+ years. I would personally think that if someone knew she had recurring kidney problems, she would apply for medical insurance help with her problems. I was poor and had to do the same, and I am grateful to finally have help. Does anyone know why she didn’t/couldn’t? I understand there can be issues applying sometime…

  57. Turd Fergussen says:

    @ G (#56)

    If our healthcare system is so shitty, why do thousands of people come here from other countries every year for special treatments and cutting-edge surgery?

  58. Mel P says:

    For those who say “not true”, there was a time in the not-so-distant past where it was NOT against the law to refuse treatment for the uninsured. I was one of those who fell through the cracks, and when my roommate took me to the ER and left me there, deathly ill, because he had to work and he was SURE they would finally see me, I was STILL refused – and that was the only hospital for 30 miles. I was escorted out by security and left to sit on the curb outside the ER entrance to wait for a cab (for which I had no money since my roommate had only left me with my ID so no one mugged me). I sat there all night. A social worker from the hospital came out the next morning to talk to me (which I remember very little of that conversation) and when she realized how ill I was made calls and got me to be seen. I spent the next 22 days in the hospital (9 in ICU) and have permanent kidney and liver damage as a result of the infection I tried to get treatment for over a 4wk period before I was hospitalized. Almost 20 years later, I am still making monthly payments to that hospital for the nearly 1 million dollar bill.

    Some states were a little slower than others to pick up on the whole “everyone will be treated” thing, and I know that as of 1995 in Wisconsin, it was not the case in private-run hospitals, as I watched my best friend nearly die while having a miscarriage and they would not treat her because she had no insurance. I had to take her (after begging for 2 hrs for them to see her) 30min away to another hospital and by that time she required 3 units of blood.

    Maybe NOWADAYS uninsured can get treatment, but when Jewel was starting out with her career, it was around the time I nearly died because I had no insurance, so yes – it DID happen, and it happened far too frequently.

  59. Bernie says:

    You guys need to get the facts straight.

    Imagine the scene: you go to county with a kidney infection, there’s no telling they have the resources to admit you. You may wait all night. I remember that happening to me when I had a routine UTI. I waited all night. Finally, I went to clinic in SF that did take me after waiting several hours.

    Have you guys been in a county ER? My god, I saw blood on the floors. People getting into fights.

    And also, a ridiculous amount of people are underwater due to health bills.

    Get your facts straight.

  60. Bernie says:

    One more comment: is it so hard to believe that some hospitals don’t abide by the laws?

    Is breaking the law unimaginable? Is the USA a beacon of adhering to regulations?

  61. icantbelievethis says:

    So the healthcare system, labor laws and tenant laws all failed her?

  62. jc126 says:

    No, breaking the law is not unimaginable. It’s funny when people just refuse to contemplate that some place may have (GASP!) ignored the law.

    I saw the Jewel segment on Today. She said she was homeless for a month in the car. She did not claim to have been long-term homeless and was not melodramatic, just factual.

  63. Frankie says:

    In Australia we have universal health care. If you go to an emergency department you can receive treatment for whatever illness/accident for free. No bills later, nothing. You can also see GPs for free here too.
    People do have private health insurance here, I do, and it is a much better deal than the US. They can’t refuse to pay you out like the US companies do. I dont know anyone who has been bankrupted by medical costs or even had issues with the cost.
    I feel sorry for the people in the US who think universal health care is bad- it is the insurance companies in the US spreading this propaganda because if there was a proper safety net for all citizens in the US the insurance companies wouldn’t be able to scam ppl the way they do.

  64. mark says:

    @#58 Turd Fergussen

    Because the airfare is so cheap?

    There are obviously some clinics and procedures that are more promising in the USA than somewhere else.

    Prostate cancer therapy would be one of them, although there are now centers in Germany and the UK to treat that, too.

    Generally, I doubt your claim that so many people from other countries come to the US for treatment when there are countless countries (european and other ones) that can do the same thing.
    In fact, I have heard a lot more about treat ment in Switzerland, the UK and Sweden than I have about medical tourism to the US.

    If your system is so great, then why do Americans fly to France to get their HIV medication in order to only pay 20€ (30US$) instead of upwards of 1000US$ for the same medication ?

  65. Jessi says:

    I call b.s. I work in healthcare and that did not happen. Get the gov’t out of the insurance plans and the prices will come down significantly. Not that we don’t need a safety net funded by taxpayers for the less fortunate-we do, and I am happy to contribute, but interference in the contract between the privately insured and the insurance companies is out of control.

  66. mark says:

    Wanted to add: I was talking about proton radiation, spearheaded in Loma Linda.
    although there are now centers in Germany and the UK that are at least up to par with it, too ( ) .

  67. Ria says:

    Ya know what I love? being Canadian – it’s not perfect, but it’s much, much better than only providing for a small percentage of the population that can afford care. We also didn’t have a major housing crisis and have done OK economically. Semi-socialism – not so bad!!

    I will say I wish we had pharmacare, but maybe one day.

    And even those with insurance can end up paying lots – the aunt of a friend in a legal battle with her insurance to cover the treatment she got for breast cancer. Apparentely, her lawyer thinks they’ll obviously end up paying, but ya know what they won’t pay? – the lawyer fees. go figure.

  68. the original bellaluna says:

    What I know to be true is this: the hospitals CAN AND WILL refuse you if you don’t have insurance.

    As to costs, the tally for my youngest came in at a quarter mil. ER C-section on a Sunday evening, while I quietly nearly bled out and nearly stroked out.

    A week in the hospital to try to get me “normalised” (baby was just fine) and level out my BP.

    (Guess what? Even WITH my union-job insurance, it didn’t begin to cover it.)

  69. JaneWonderfalls says:

    ” HEARD IT ALL BEFORE” -Sunshine Anderson

  70. Susie #1 says:

    Didn’t she go to an elite performing arts boarding/high school? Maybe on a scholarship? Interesting she shares her down and out stories not the privileges she has enjoyed.
    Can’t buy the ER story either. Sure UTI and kidney infections are terribly painful but who would expect to be admitted to the hospital? What about free clinics etc? Maybe she didn’t know how to apply for social services.

  71. kay says:

    thank god I live in Canada.

  72. original kate says:

    is jewel STILL trotting out that old homeless story? maybe she should work more on her muscic.

    as for health care i’ve had crappy state insurance, i’ve had no insurance and i currently have great insurance – and what i know is not having insurance is terrifying. i would take crappy NHS over nothing any day of the week.

  73. smh says:

    i like her dress minus the ribbon. and her earrings and even the tacky bag. sometimes tacky looks so vintage and i love the colour and fabric too.

  74. self help says:



  75. self help says:


  76. Joanna says:

    I know there were times I got sick and it sucked. I couldn’t afford to go to the doctor to get antibiotics so I had to lay in bed and suffer till it worked itself out of my system. Now I have insurance through my work but most places have never heard of it and won’t take it. For those saying there’s affordable insurance, please send me the link. I researched health insurance online and most were at least 150-200 a month with a 5,000 dollar deductible. And at 11.40 an hour and no kids, I make too much for Medicaid. So in other words, I’m too rich for Medicaid but not a good enough job to have good insurance. I would love to have decent insurance, so I am all for nationwide healthcare. Food-service worker such as waitresses or almost anybody that works in a restaurant does not get benefits such as health insurance that some people take for granted. and if you’re like me and keep your legs crossed or use birth-control, you can’t qualify for any government programs.

  77. Baylor says:

    “So the healthcare system, labor laws and tenant laws all failed her?”

    This!!! They all failed her at the same time too! Within the same week/month!

  78. magslivs says:

    some times when i read comment sections from people like self help there all i can think of is Brick Tamlyn from “Anchorman” LOUD NOISES!!!!!

  79. DarkEmpress says:

    I am really disheartened when I read some of these comments. People are so cruel to each other. It boggles my mind that with all the facts and stories explaining how people suffer due to lack of universal health care in the US, people still find excuses why it is acceptable to deny people health care. Even if you ignore the people who have not gotten insurance and focus on the ones who have insurance, they still get denied by insurance companies and hospitals when they have maxed out the amount which is covered. They are still left to pay the difference on huge bills in spite of having coverage.

    I think the main reason that some European health care systems are experiencing severe funding shortages, is because their economy is tanking. In Canada I have great health care and every time I hear more stories from the US of people suffering due to lack of health care I become more grateful. Some Cdns travel abroad for health care, because with money you can buy more exclusive health care. The public health care system provides you with good health care. If you want your own private nurse, and doctors, in a private hospital, who will do your hip replacement surgery within 24hours and you have the money, well go ahead and take a trip and get it done. If you want to go and get a private birthing suite like some celebrities and you think that it is a worthwhile expenditure, good for you. I think its a fair trade off that everyone get good services instead of some people getting exclusive service while others wither away and die.

  80. Wil in Minneapolis says:

    I remember when Jewel was new on the scene in the mid 90s and she mentioned the homeless thing. No reason she should lie about something like that. She was very young and living in her car .. that can happen in this fine country.

    As for bankruptcy .. I had a kidney transplant a few years back and after years of fighting it off .. finally had to declare bankruptcy at the beginning of this year.

    So to the smart ass know it all’s who say posh .. I say .. well .. I bet you know. I am not special .. I am not the only person I know who has had to declare bankruptcy because of health issues.

    Most health care insurance policies have a million dollar limit. Would you like to venture a guess how much 5 years of dialysis and a kidney transplant cost? How about the meds I need to take that are not covered .. unlike other organ transplants .. by medicare for the organs life time. It takes very little time to rack up a $1,000,000.00 bottom line. And that assumes you only have one disease you are fighting at a time like I did. Imagine how fast it goes if you have more than one.

    As per usual, you have a few people with very little knowledge who think they know everything, lack empathy and make asinine statements they cannot back up. Hopefully karma will not one day show them exactly how foolish and ill informed they are. But .. I think we all know karma doesn’t work that way.

  81. Wil in Minneapolis says:

    Oh … and as for UTIs not being serious. Guess what . your bladder is connected to your kidneys by something called a ureter .. guess what bacteria from your bladder can travel up and destroy. Yep .. you guessed it.

    UTIs are NOTHING to be fooled with unless you want to find yourself with a kidney infection that can kill you or merely ruin your kidneys if you are lucky.

    Why do several of the posts here remind me of that group of so-called human beings chanting, “Let him die!” a few weeks ago? Geez, this nation is screwed.

  82. la chica says:

    yes she could have gone to the ER of any hospital. but she would have gotten a bill in the mail. been there.

  83. cz says:

    Have you tried ehealthinsurance? You can play with different features including higher/lower deductibles and monthly payment ranges etc. You can also compare different plans to see what you are getting and what works best for you.

    Another option would be to talk to a financial adviser. I spoke with one from Ameriprise while I was laid off and he actually found me some very good quotes. There was no charge for the service but I was already a client. I think they make their money off a percentage of what they sell or something but I would confirm any extra charge with them if you decide to take that route.

    good luck!

  84. Mandi says:

    Jewel’s experience is really sad and I have heard stories (even today) of patients being denied medical care (or sent to a county hospital, where it is usually over-crowded, under-staffed and the medical attention one receives there is often mediocre at best). I have a friend who is a nurse at a county hospital in LA County and the stories she tells me…she is truly a saint for putting up with what she does. Her patients are often alcoholics, mentally ill, drug addicts and gang members. One night, there was a gang-related shooting right outside of the ER. Every night the hospital has staff escorted by security to their cars. How would you like it if you didn’t have insurance and had to be transferred to a hospital in which you were in constant fear due to the other patients?

    Also, I’d like to address Elizabeth S.’s comment @11. As an attorney, while I cannot provide actual statistics, I do know for a fact that the #1 reason people file bankruptcy is because of medical bills. It has been that way for decades. The majority of filings are not people abusing credit cards, committing fraud or spending more than they can afford, but people who stand to lose their jobs (many require credit checks now), homes, car(s), etc., due to our ridiculous health care system. This is why there was so much opposition to the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2005 and why we need to advocate for a better health care system.

  85. werty says:

    Elizabeth S. AND everyone else this may concern:
    Stop apeaking about Europe as a whole, every European country has its own laws and regelations.

    Im a Swede and altough we might have to wait a week for an operation, we still get that operation, for a very small amount of money.
    So im glad i live here and not in some other countries in the world.

    And once again, Europe is a continent with many countries, whom has many differences when it comes to healhtcare (and everything else for that matter)

    Regarding Jewel, good for her, and we should never accept living in a car as normal (meaning, never stop trying to change it for the better)

    EDIT: self help


  86. MissVJJ says:

    I work in a hospital and see firsthand on how our country is going to go bankrupt from supporting everyone else who doesnt have insurance. Not all these people who dont have insurance are poor. Some of them refuse to work and obtain insurance. People come in for the dumbest crap. Like the 44 year old illegal lady who had a headache after snorting cocaine. I did a $3000 CT exam on her head for. I wonder who’s gonna foot that bill!

  87. d says:

    Im going to also have to call out Elizabeth on her bullshit. Most postcodes (in London) have rich and poor people. Its one of the things I love most about this city, that the massive mansions are just in front of the shitty council housing. They share a postcode.

    The reason more people are not protesting the changes to the NHS is because they havent a CLUE. The intricacies of the proposal are so complicated it barely even being reported on. The media are too preoccupied winding up middle england with immigrant stories instead.

  88. Whiny Dancer says:

    For those wondering “who will pay for universal health care”, here in Australia our universal health care (Medicare) is funded through our income tax. People who earn more than $22,000 a year pay a 1.5% Medicare levy. Those earning more than $77,000 pay an extra 1% on top of that, unless they have private health insurance, then they’re exempt from the extra 1%.

    It’s as simple as that. 2.5% of your income at most. That’s ALL. Also bear in mind that hardly anyone has private health insurance provided by their employer – but at around $75 per month per person, it’s easy to afford out of pocket. And if you spend more than $1,500 a year on your own healthcare (which is actually quite hard to do since hospital visits are free and GP visits are subsidised by Medicare), you get the rest deducted from your income tax.

    It always makes me giggle when right-wing americans jump up and down and act like universal health care will destroy their way of life and everything they hold dear. Especially when you guys already pay some of the lowest income taxes in the developed world. It simply isn’t. That. Difficult.

    And I feel terrible for the people who get stuck in the nightmare of a system you have now.

  89. hootie hoo says:

    I saw her recently on Regis and Kelly and she glowed. She seems so happy with being a Mommy and there is this softness about her. I’ve always adored this woman and her integrity to herself, her music, and her way of life. I wish her all the best and more.

  90. hootie hoo says:

    PS. No one should EVER be refused medical treatment. It is insane that a person can become bankrupt because they become sick. It speaks volumes of a society if they do not take care of the sick and the poor. This is why people are occupying Wall St. Enough is enough.

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