Brain Injury Patients Have Few Options

In the San Francisco Chronicle today (08/09/15), Nanette Asimov writes about one family’s struggle providing care for their son who sustained a traumatic brain injury in his junior year at UC Berkeley.

To make a long, and tragic, story short, Ms. Asimov explains how the money from a settlement, which was the result of a lawsuit the family filed against the dormitory where their son lived when he suffered a drug overdose, is running out. John Gibson, 26, will have to be moved from his family’s home because of the costs associated with his care.

His family’s choices are not good. Without private insurance or money to cover his costs he will have to go to a facility that accepts Medi-cal and takes brain injury victims. There are not a lot of those.  And, what is even more frustrating for John’s family is that it would actually be cheaper to keep him in his home.

The Gibsons paid $435 per day last year for all of his care. That’s for everything. Medi-cal will pay a facility $691 a day to care for him. But Medi-cal will not pay to keep him in his parents’ home. And, according to the Chronicle, Medi-cal will not cover several of the therapies that he is now receiving that are important to his health and quality of life.

So Medi-cal pays more and the injury victim gets less. This is a terrible scenario for everyone, especially John and his family. But as tragic as it sounds, the Gibsons are actually lucky that they have had the resources to provide John with the care he needs up to this point. Traumatic brain injuries are taking place across the country in epidemic numbers. And the overwhelming majority of those cases involve individuals who do not have insurance or resources to deal with such an injury.

According to the CDC, there are more than 1.5 million traumatic brain injuries treated in emergency rooms annually. The number of actual brain injuries sustained is difficult to determine because many of these injuries are not reported. According to the Brain Injury Association of California, over 350,000 California residents currently suffer from a brain injury.

In the most severe cases such as John’s, California has dedicated far too few resources.

If you would like to learn more about traumatic brain injury, you can visit our resource page here. If you would like to read the article in the Chronicle about John’s injury and his parents ordeal you can do so at the San Francisco Chronicle here.

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