A California teenager who died last week, possibly from coronavirus, was turned away from an urgent care because he lacked health insurance.
Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris said in a video that the 17-year-old had no previous health conditions and was healthy Friday, socializing with friends, before he passed away Wednesday.
"Wednesday, he had gone to an urgent care," he said. "He didn't have insurance, so they did not treat him."
Parris said the teen was sent to the hospital but went into cardiac arrest on the way and died. He was briefly revived, but ultimately passed away.
"We've learned that once you go into respiratory issues, you have trouble breathing, you're short of breath and you have a fever, that is the time to get medical treatment without delay," Parris said.
The teen's death was reported Tuesday. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health initially said the cause was COVID-19, but later walked the comment back, saying further analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was needed to confirm the cause of death.
"Though early tests indicated a positive result for COVID-19, the case is complex and there may be an alternate explanation for this fatality," the statement said. "Patient privacy prevents our offering further details at this time."
Health care has been at the center of debate as the 2020 presidential election drags on with some progressive Democratic candidates campaigning for Medicare for All. However, the topic has drawn even more attention as Americans now fear how they will pay for potential coronavirus treatment when scientific estimates predict a massive number of people will be diagnosed during the pandemic.
The Kaiser Family Foundation recently released a study predicting the average cost of coronavirus treatment for someone with insurance and without health complications would total around $9,763, and treatment for someone with complications could top $20,000. The amount someone with insurance would pay out-of-pocket varies depending on their plan, but the study estimates it could exceed $1,300.
A bill signed by President TrumpDonald TrumpUkraine's president compares UN to 'a retired superhero' Collins to endorse LePage in Maine governor comeback bid Heller won't say if Biden won election MORE last week offers free diagnostics testing for coronavirus, and on Friday he signed a third coronavirus relief bill that gives stimulus checks to Americans to help those who are out of work or have medical costs associated with the pandemic.