John Hodgman Retweets Dozens Of Health Nightmares

This morning, comedian John Hodgman tweeted that young people should sign up for Obama’s Affordable Care Act. He then received and retweeted dozens of intense personal stories about illness and health care.

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2. Shortly after Obamacare enrollment began this morning, comedian John Hodgman tweeted this to his more than 900,000 followers.

3. Soon, dozens of people sent him their harrowing health care stories, and he retweeted a lot of them.

@hodgman at 24 my 5 year old was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. No job, no insurance: filed bankruptcy 2 years later. $40,000.

— alternatekev (@Kevin Conboy)

@hodgman blew ACL 3 times between 16-20. Fathers insurance covered the surgeries, but can't afford premiums due to pre-existing.

— benpeyton76 (@Benjamin Peyton)

“@larynx_lynx: I've had no ins for more than 18 mos. My union has done nothing to help; I hope this passes.”/that's the thing: IT DID PASS

— hodgman (@hodgman)

@hodgman - Thyroid cancer at 25, working 29.5 hrs a week at 1st TV job, no insurance. Gov't subsidized health insurance saved me.

— nhbaker (@nhbaker)

@hodgman I was hospitalized at 29 w/ a blood clot. Then I lost insurance and couldn't re-up due to a preexisting condition. Thank you, ACA.

— epalicki (@epalicki)

@hodgman Daughter (who I think you have met) had softball-sized ovarian cyst when she was 2. Would have been catastrophic w/o insurance.

— billchilds (@Bill Childs)

@hodgman Emergency gall-bladder surgery w/complications while unemployed. Almost died twice. $150,000.

— mikesphar (@Michael W. Sphar)

@hodgman At 33 I broke my arm. Complications resulted in a biopsy, bone graft, and hospital stay. Cost: $24,000. With insurance: $250.

— ctpierson (@Chris Pierson)

@hodgman I have adult onset epilepsy and my medicine costs well over $2k/mo. Without insurance we'd be on the street.

— Aleveria (@KarenL)

@hodgman On my 23rd birthday I ruptured my spleen in a ultimate frisbee game, was in hospital for 6 days-$88k bill, luckily I had insurance

— etmckinley (@Eliot)

@hodgman Had my appendix out at 28 - would have been $20,000 without insurance.

— chowmeyow (@Emily Wilson)

@hodgman My sister survived cancer at 19 & moved to MA after college because she knew she could get insurance there. Every person needs it!

— ahab99 (@Ahab)

Had a uretero-pelvic junction obstruction at age 25. @hodgman: Young people: sign up for healthcare. Take it from me--YOU ARE NOT IMMORTAL

— laydeeterror (@Claire Taylor)

@DavidBrandtWho @chrislhayes @hodgman broken neck at age 25 while body surfing: $85k hospital bill.

— ervington (@Evan Rogers)

@hodgman "burning out", I mean nearly dying due to a faulty gall-bladder whilst being uninsured. Still paying 7 years later.

— THEJasonPCarney (@Jason P. Carney)

@hodgman Insurance paid for my $19k emergency appendectomy at age 26. Have an appendix? You need insurance. Thing's a ticking time bomb.

— keeltyc (@Christopher Keelty)

@epalicki @hodgman I had a blood clot at 27, when my son was just a few weeks old. Insurance saved us from complete financial devastation.

— bwyatt (@Ben Wyatt)

@hodgman Got a kidney stone at 33. 25k for one night in the hospital. Insurance covered most, still paid 3k out of pocket. Matters.

— TiredFairy (@Mariah Huehner)

@hodgman born with a heart condition, starting getting breathless, had to have valve replaced at 28... not immortal

— jazzgtrplayer (@jazzgtrplayer)

@hodgman Emergency appendectomy at 26. Went from fine to surgery in under 24 hours. Death or $79k operation. Thankfully I had insurance.

— michaelskinner (@Michael Skinner)

26. He ended the barrage with this:

I'll stop jamming your feed. Sorry. Was overwhelmed by response.

— hodgman (@hodgman)

The point is, youths: educate yourself; get some coverage. You can't bit-torrent insurance later if you don't feel like paying for it now.

— hodgman (@hodgman)

28. Hodgman then turned to his blog.

He published a 17-point blog post about the Affordable Care Act, while clarifying he was not “an expert” but “mainly wanted to remind young people that they are not immortal or immune to ill fortune.”

Hodgman explained that he had “no agenda” when he tweeted to encourage people to sign up for the Affordable Care Act, and was “overwhelmed by the response.”

I didn’t intend to retweet a whole mess of sob stories this morning from young people who thought they were healthy until they got hit by an SUV/bad appendix/thyroid cancer/infection/baby. What a bunch of whiners, right?

All I meant to do was encourage healthy young people and the other people in the world who think they are immortal, who think that health insurance is a luxury that isn’t worth affording, to give that assumption some critical thought, and take advantage of the exchanges to see what their options are.

Then the stories came in, and I was overwhelmed in every sense of the word. It seemed something of a civic responsibility, and personally, something of an honor, to retweet as many as I could with the hopes that I would not drive you crazy.

He ended the post, titled The Ultimate (Frisbee) Argument for Visiting, by referencing his favorite tweet:

16: It’s grotesque to play favorites, as all of the stories were amazingly human and touching in their own ways. But all the same, my favorite was this from @etmckinley:

@hodgman On my 23rd birthday I ruptured my spleen in a ultimate frisbee game, was in hospital for 6 days-$88k bill, luckily I had insurance
— Eliot (@etmckinley) October 1, 2013

What better example of youth’s folly meeting unexpected adult reality than that of the ultimate frisbee spleen rupture. I am glad you are OK and still solvent, Eliot, and I hope you’re still spinning the disc.

17: FINALLY, REMEMBER, YOUNG PEOPLE: just because you don’t want to pay for health insurance now doesn’t mean you’ll be able to bit-torrent it for free when you need it later.

OK. I don’t have anything else to say about this experience except that I learned a lot; it was nice to get to know you all; and

That is all.

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Alison Vingiano is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Alison Vingiano at
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