TAMPA, Fla. -- Ray Ross recently broke a thumb playing basketball and ended up owing $3,128.30 to his health insurer, which refused to pay the full bill of $9,776.30.
Connie Wells and her husband spent their life savings -- and then sold the family farm to qualify for Medicaid -- because of three young children with severe illnesses.
Similar tales were abundant yesterday at a Senate hearing on the need to reform the nation's health care system.
The experiences of Ross and the Wellses -- and others -- were not lost on Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell, D-Maine, and three other Democratic senators who kicked off a week-long series of public hearings here that will reach four other cities. The hearings are intended to highlight an issue that the senators say has been virtually ignored by the Bush administration.