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Uninsured Norman man dies because he feared cost of calling 911, neighbor says

by Jaclyn Cosgrove Modified: May 23, 2014 at 3:43 pm •  Published: May 23, 2014

It was only about a month ago when a Norman police officer came to Lori’s door and told her that her friend was dead.

Lori’s friend, Allen, a 53-year-old therapist, had lived next to her for about six months, and the two had become close.

They enjoyed talking about movies and books. It was nice to find someone she connected with.

In late April, Lori realized she hadn’t heard from Allen in a few days and worried something was wrong. She banged on his door, trying to get his attention and tried to reach him several times. She even put a rock behind his car’s tire to make sure she wasn’t just missing him when he was home. But the rock never moved.

What still haunts Lori is the reason why Allen died, she said.

Allen died alone in his apartment, potentially from a heart attack or other heart troubles. He was uninsured and afraid to call 911, fearful of how much it would cost to go to the hospital.

A few days before his death, Allen had complained of having trouble breathing and a pain in his left arm.

“Why didn’t you call 911?” Lori asked him.

“I don’t have insurance,” he told her.

She told him that didn’t matter, that he could go get help.

“If I die, I die,” he told her.

The last phone call Allen made was to Lori, probably to tell her he didn’t feel well, she said.

“I feel so responsible because I would have called 911,” she said. “People die every day because they think (hospitals) are going to ask for ID or something. They don’t – people are wonderful at hospitals.”

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by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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