GH man: Affordable health care needed

Kevin VanderWal took his chances without health insurance until he was approved for Medicaid in April.
Marie Havenga
Sep 28, 2013


Less than five months later, the Grand Haven man crashed his motorcycle and landed in the hospital. He was not wearing a helmet.

VanderWal said he thinks mandated health care under the new Affordable Care Act will help people face the unexpected.

“It really opened my eyes,” he said. “I was so thankful I had insurance. I was thinking — if I didn't have insurance, would they have helped me or would I have been just sitting there? I know it was an accident, but still, there are limits to what they can do even if people have insurance.”

VanderWal, 29, who is studying cosmetology at the French Academy in Spring Lake, said he hopes the Affordable Care Act will also open up more opportunities for coverage.
He said he currently has to pay for MRIs out of his own pocket after the Sept. 14 crash.

“I just hope they actually do more to help us and not keep limiting everything we can do,” he said. “I think they should look at letting people do physical therapy with Medicaid. I can only go for a consultation and then I have to pay out-of-pocket. They send you home with stuff to do.”

Jessica Bukrey plans to dive head-first into the health insurance marketplace when it opens next week. However, the 40-year-old Baker College student said she's thoroughly confused by all the health care law changes, but has scheduled a meeting with an insurance agent to help her wade through her options.

The new law will not allow insurance companies to deny coverage because of existing health issues. Bukrey said she's been denied coverage in the past because of pre-existing conditions. She hasn't had health insurance since the 1990s.

“I can't imagine there are too many people who are 40 who don't have some sort of pre-existing condition,” she said.



Unbelievable. This is not a pre-existing condition! He made the decision to ride without a helmet. Why should I help pay for this, either under Medicaid or Obamacare? He has no family to help him with the decision he made? As a reminder, the government (taxpayers) is not your family. But many have been taught just that in the government controlled schools and churches.


Love your compassion. You should be proud.


Looking forward to see how this new health care all works out. Trying to stay positive to give it a fair chance

deuce liti

Is being healthy a pre-existing condition that health insurance won't cover yet?

Barry Soetoro

No Kevin, you didn't have insurance. The taxpayers had insurance for you. You're welcome. Best wishes on your recovery and hope to see you out riding your motorcycle without a helmet soon!


Here's an idea Kevin: Sell your motorcycle to pay for the MRI's. And cut back on your cable tv and I-phone service. Welcome to your future.

Tri-cities realist

What's the difference if he had no insurance or is on Medicaid, we foot the bill either way, duh! People should bear the financial burden for their stupid decisions, instead of letting other people pay for their idiocy.


The concept is that now
everyone actually will pay their share. So let's defund that STUPID idea.

Tri-cities realist

What concept?


What a shame, Kevin VanderWal. Since you were not wearing a helmet, you are very lucky your injuries were not life-threatening, although they were disabling. I hope you continue to progress with your recovery, but it is likely to take a very long time.

Study after study has shown that helmet-less motorcycle accidents are more serious, have a much longer and much more expensive recovery time, and the mortality is far greater.

Our legislators, with the repeal of the motorcycle helmet law, basically are handing Michigan taxpayers the extra burden of paying for these types of accidents which are increasing exponentially, either through increased insurance premiums, taxes, health care costs, and most likely - all three.


1. You are required to have additional insurance to ride without a helmet
2. If you have insurance, your paying for treatment.
3. Please present data that shows "these types of accidents which are increasing exponentially..."


Helmets are considered to be 37% effective in preventing fatal injuries to motorcyclists. This means for every 100 motorcyclists killed in crashes while not wearing a helmet, 37 of them could have been saved had all 100 worn helmets.

Scott Pohl became the 75th motorcyclist without a helmet killed or seriously injured in Michigan after the state lifted its helmet mandate to give riders choice, an MLive Media Group investigation found.

At least 700 other motorcyclists without helmets crashed six months after Gov. Rick Snyder and lawmakers changed the state’s 35-year-old law, records show.

According to 2011 data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 4,612 motorcyclists were killed and 81,000 were injured on our nation's roads last year. NHTSA estimates that helmets saved the lives of 1,617 motorcyclists in 2011 and that 703 more lives in all states could have been saved if all motorcyclists had worn helmets. The number of motorcycle crash fatalities has more than doubled since a low of 2,116 motorcycle crash deaths in 1997. All-rider helmet laws increase motorcycle helmet use, decrease deaths and injuries and save taxpayer dollars.

The average medical claim from a motorcycle crash rose by more than one-fifth last year in Michigan after the state stopped requiring all riders to wear helmets, according to an insurance industry study. Across the nation, motorcyclists opposed to mandatory helmet use have been chipping away at state helmet laws for years while crash deaths have been on the rise.

For more than 40 years, Michigan required all motorcycle riders to wear helmets. State legislators changed the law last year so that only riders younger than 21 must wear helmets. The average insurance payment on a motorcycle injury claim was $5,410 in the two years before the law was changed, and $7,257 after it was changed — an increase of 34 percent, the study by the Highway Loss Data Institute found.

That's just for starters. Let me know if you need to see more.


Your using national data to make a point about Michigan helmet law. The data in Michigan had been different.

You also fail to accurate portrait the Michigan data that you did use. You are implying not wearing a helmet caused the 700 crashes. So your study of helmet law is skewed to fit your preconceived notions about the law. This is typically what you do on issues.

You may also want understand how many more riders are on the road since 1997. The age of those riders may be of interest too. I know that may require more home work and study but I think you will find it interesting.

Your manipulation of insurance premium data does not accurately correlate to the increased number of riders and the extended riding season with an unusally warm spring the first year of the no helmet law.

For the record, I do not ride without a helmet. My choice, wonderful concept isn't it! But I do believe it should be a choice just like the seatbelt law should be. Hey its my body right? Isn't that what pro choice is all about;-) Why do you want to control peoples decisions about their body? This argument is sounding vaguely familiar! Difference here is I'm only putting my own life in jeopardy, not another!

Couple more hours of research should do the trick!


"I" didn't do anything, but simply went 'eeny, meeny, miiny, mo' with my mouse, and cut and paste. If you have a problem with the data, take it up with the authors of the dozens of like-minded articles. "I" didn't manipulate the data or anything else, so you can drop the personal attacks. And by the way, the standard protocol in debate is that if you disagree with the data given, you rebut with data, not personally attack the person presenting the data. So, if you have any interest in further debating what, in my mind, has little to no merit to debate, knock yourself out (maybe should put your helmet on first).

I'm relieved to know you have some level of common sense, and wear a helmet. There are enough things that can go wrong when we least expect it, let alone go looking for 'em.


I get it, just find something that feeds your over abundent need to speak about everything like your and expert and copy and paste. No wonder you are so easily led astray in your thinking. I don't subscribe to your "debate" format. I'd rather speak my mind and engage my brain.

Your really not as intellectual as you think of yourself. Sorry you don't like my occasional pinging of your ego.... and no I won't ever change!


Meeoow! Touched a nerve, did I? Looks like I made you 'think'. 1.) It's not 'my' debate format - it's 'the' debate format. 2.) How do you know how I think of myself? If you knew me, you would find the words intellectual and ego in describing me laughable. Curious and outlier come to mind. 3.) I'm only easily led astray when going astray leads to something positive - otherwise, I'm on it like white on rice. 4.) Please - engage your brain! It's good for you...just don't get all 'intellectual'. As far as pinging my 'ego' - ping away. But if your definition of 'pinging' is mean-spirited. bitterness-tinged personal zingers, I'm afraid I will have an overabundance of need to go astray.


Na, no nerves touched here. 1. Posting one sided links do not a debate make. Anyone can be a parrot. 2. From your many post I think I can deduct accurately how you see yourself. (Why run from my assesment anyway?) 3. Your easily led astray period. 4. Now your just getting all defensive because I struck a nerve in my assessments.

Lanner on.


Your and You're mean two different things, you know.


You're right.


Defund this atrocity which was once Obamacare and now is called 'Affordable Health Care'(how clever!). Kevin is a perfect example of how the responsible are now going to pay even more for the irresponsible. YOU DON'T have a pre existing condition, YOU CAUSED your current condition , YOU MADE a choice to ride without a helmet, YOU DIDN'T have health insurance. YOU made poor life decisions, deal with it. No one hates on you, no one wishes this on you and we all hope you make the most of your situation. I would like to especially thank the GH Tribune for writing this article, nothing could be more educative than Kevin's own testimony to expose the sham this unconstitutional law is.


Your comment is shows a basic lack of understanding of the ACA, but I would like to point out that you are totally incorrect regarding it's constitutionality. The SCOTUS ruled Obamacare constitutional in 2012.


The SCOTUS also said at one time it was legal to own another human being! !


Yeah - brilliant. Slavery is also referred to in the Constitution.






Seriously Kevin, the physical therapist "sent you home with stuff to do" which is exactly what physical therapy is. In order to get better you need to do what they tell you to do, yes at home! What's the problem?


Yes there is stuff to do at home and that's a good thing because it keeps you involved in your own treatment but having had physical therapy in the past I can say that physical therapists do a lot that someone cannot do at home even with a helper. For the life of me I cannot understand why people who already have healthcare ( I am one )would deny it to others who don't.

Tri-cities realist

We aren't denying it, they are free to purchase health insurance on their own, or go work for a company that provides it.


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