'A Life or Death Situation': Internet Tells Poster To Seek Medical Attention In Viral Thread

The internet was quick to encourage one user to seek immediate medical attention after their post about potentially suffering from appendicitis went viral.

Posted in Reddit's r/antiwork forum, the viral post was titled "Might have appendicitis, but can't afford ER because I'm in America," and has received 11.5K votes (92 percent upvotes) and over 2,350 comments. Authored by u/Flaky_Cut1325, the post includes a description of days-long excruciating pain and garnered a ton of attention from concerned commenters.

Explaining that they recently quit their job, u/Flaky_Cut1325 said they don't have health insurance and that they cannot personally afford an emergency appendectomy.

"I quit my pet store chain job because they were abusing the animals and now I don't have insurance to go to the ER for what very well could be a life or death situation," they wrote.

"Haven't slept for 48 hours because of pain, so count me in for another sleepless night," they added.

According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of appendicitis include sudden pain that begins on the right side of the lower abdomen, sudden pain that begins around your navel and often shifts to the lower right abdomen, and pain that worsens if you cough, walk or make other jarring movements. But while the Mayo Clinic recommends that anyone suffering from symptoms of appendicitis seek immediate medical attention, the cost of an emergency operation to remove a burst or ruptured appendix can be daunting.

Emergency appendectomy
One Redditor said they believe they have appendicitis, but no health insurance to cover the medical costs involved with treating it. Alona Siniehina/iStock / Getty Images Plus

Based on information collected from patients who underwent emergency appendectomies, CostHelper estimates that for a person without health insurance, like the viral thread's author, an appendectomy typically costs between $10,000 and $35,000, depending on the medical provider. Costs vary from state to state, and are also liable to change according to the severity of the appendicitis and the presence of abdominal abscesses.

However, the alternative to paying for an appendectomy is likely death. If left untreated, appendicitis can cause serious complications — most notably a ruptured appendix. The Mayo Clinic reports that following an appendix rupture, an infection spreads throughout the abdomen, and requires immediate surgery to remove the appendix and clean the abdominal cavity.

Under the Affordable Care Act, certain non-profit hospitals are required to offer financial assistance to patients unable to afford the care they need. According to GoodRx, different amounts of financial assistance are available based on which state a patient lives in, and how much money they make. In 2019, U.S. News reported that some healthcare providers and hospitals offer sliding scales, providing more assistance for lower-income patients, while others may "standardize" the amount of assistance offered.

Responding to the viral Reddit post, many commenters encouraged u/Flaky_Cut1325 to seek medical attention and shared their experiences receiving financial assistance from a healthcare provider.

In the post's top comment, that received 7.9K votes, Redditor u/GoinBlind74 was blunt about the original poster needing help.

"Please go to the hospital my friend," they wrote in response to u/Flaky_Cut1325. "This could kill you."

Redditor u/tennwife, along with many others, acknowledged that potential financial assistance for an emergency appendectomy is available.

"Every hospital has a charity financial aid program," they wrote, encouraging the thread's author to inquire about their eligibility for assistance.

"I got billed for $11,000 after insurance for an emergency appendectomy," Redditor u/CheeseMclovin added. "Financial aid dropped it."

In a lengthy response, Redditor u/ThisShouldBeObvious2 said that their wife had appendicitis, and that the entire cost of her emergency appendectomy was eventually covered by the hospital that performed the operation. u/ThisShouldBeObvious2 also assured u/Flaky_Cut1325 that they needed to be treated sooner rather than later.

"Please don't wait," they commented. "Even during COVID they rushed my wife to the OR ... please don't die OP."

Amid thousands of comments detailing similar experiences with various hospitals' financial assistance programs, one comment about the potentially-fatal dangers of appendicitis stood out. Cost and financial assistance aside, Redditor u/Chojyugiga recounted a terrifying and nearly-tragic experience in an attempt to push u/Flaky_Cut1325 to go to the hospital.

"Please go ASAP," they wrote. "My partner had appendicitis and went right away — only hours away from rupture and possible death."

"Our child would have grown up missing a parent," they added.