State of the Heart
In 2004, at the age of fifty-three, self-employed contractor Howard Stabb learns that a leaking mitral valve in his heart needs to be repaired. Left untreated, his doctors tell Stabb, his condition may kill him at any moment. The procedure to repair the heart valve costs at least $200,000 at the Durham Regional Hospital near Stabb's North Carolina home - if there are no complications. Before the hospital will even admit Stabb, they demand a $50,000 deposit, money that Stabb and his partner, author Maggi Grace, do not have. Seeking some alternative that might allow him to undergo the life-saving treatment, Stabb implores the hospital to charge him the discounted rate available to insurance companies. The hospital refuses.