By: Taylor Brannan, InternPosted on June 27, 2011 Issues: Health Care & Reproductive Rights

If you were faced with a choice between being sick and in pain or being in jail, which would you choose? Let’s face it: it seems an absurd choice to make. It sounds like a game you’d play with your friends. That’s because most of us have never thought about this before. I know the thought had never crossed my mind.

Ideally, no one should have to worry about receiving medical coverage. But there are a large number of people throughout this country who are not covered or are unable to get health coverage because of a pre-existing condition. Take people like North Carolina resident James Richard Verone. Despite being a law abiding citizen, Verone robbed a bank and took $1 so he could receive access to health care in jail. He had been denied health coverage and disability, despite the fact he was feeling from pain from carpel tunnel syndrome, arthritis, and a chest protrusion, all of which affected his ability to do his work. For him, jail, with the health care he’d receive, seemed like a better option than the pain he couldn’t do anything about.

Unfortunately, in this country, James Richard Verone’s case is not that uncommon. While most people do not opt to rob a bank for access to health coverage, many go into foreclosure or go bankrupt because of their medical bills. In fact women are more likely than men to declare bankruptcy because of medical bills. Imagine if your grandmother were faced with this kind problem. She has been denied coverage, but needs medical attention desperately. Or perhaps she became sick and her insurance company dropped her. Would you want her to make the choice between jail time or dealing with an illness and immense pain? My guess is probably not.

It seems like a bleak situation. People are being denied coverage and women are in danger. However, hope is in sight. The new health care law protects people from being denied coverage for pre-existing conditions. It makes it so a person cannot lose their coverage if he or she gets sick. The health care law also does a lot to improve women’s health care in this country. In the years to come, hopefully, women and men in this country will not have to make tough choices regarding health care services. Stories like the one about James Richard Verone will hopefully become a thing of the past.