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A Linux dev who helped thousands needs help to fight cancer (linuxlock.blogspot.it)
433 points by FiloSottile on Aug 24, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 127 comments

I just donated $50. And as much as I agree with the sentiments on this page about my country's lacking health care system (and have always voted with this in mind), I hope we can come together to focus on the problem at hand, which is raising money for a fellow dev in his time of greatest need. I assume the Indiegogo account cannot be suspended as easily as Paypal, so I made the donation through Indiegogo despite the slightly higher service fee.

EDIT: Here's the link for the Indiegogo campaign: http://www.indiegogo.com/helios

I donated $10, but you know what I was deeply upset. The author is doing something great but 1) he should link to the Indiegogo page because I have no idea who he is, and could have easily thought he is a scammer if it weren't for the fact that he is on the front page of HN, and 2) for God's sake tell us how much he needs (this one goes to IGG page). It's not five grand, it's more. Tell us the number so we can do whatever we can, each one of us, to help a brother in need.

I apologize to the author, but I hope my comment helps you raise way more money for such great causes next time.

Donated $20. I am currently saving cash as I am planning to take leave of absence from work to concentrate on my studies for a semester.

I made the payment through paypal, I sincerely hope it isn't "suspended" due to a rapid influx of cash.

Just matched that donation. Really screwed up country I live in. :S

I matched your donation! :) I hope he gets the surgery before it's too late. It didn't help that I was listening to a depressing song while I read the article.

Just donated $25 myself. It always makes me feel warm and fuzzy to see online communities come together to help save lives.

I just donated $10. Every little bit helps.

just did 10 as well. Every bit counts. Keep going people.

I think that developers as we are, we could just offer our apps or services for IndieGoGo perks! Also, I already see the Reddit cross-post, but I am sure everyone here can think to a still not touched community (even niche) or mailing-list.

Blown away.

I'm simply blown away, as day after day the outpouring of support for Ken grows. When I put my blog post together, my hope was to help a good friend with a new monitor, and the rest was kindof a pipe dream.

Now, 8 days and almost $40,000 later, I'm at a loss for words.

Thank you to everyone who has donated, commented, passed it on, or done anything else to help us out. Both Ken and I are speechless.

Thank you.

The title of the article is not accurate. He is not a Linux developer; for those who don't know who he is, Ken is the founder of the Helios project, which is a non-profit which refurbishes old computers and distributes them to children whose families can't afford computers.

So for someone who has paid things forward, he certainly deserves help. See the following article from his hometown newspaper in Austin, Texas for more about the good works that he has done:


Update: Thomas Knight reports that they have raised the necessary $50,000. It looks like the Indiegogo campaign is still open, and there's a note than any excess that isn't needed for his medical expenses (if all goes well the $50k should be enough) will go to Reglue, his non-profit which helps children to get access to computers.

Say whatever you like about EU, but I can't think of any country here that would not help this man, or let him die simply because he can't afford surgery. In the worst possible case he would still have the surgery done straight away ,but he would have to pay afterwards,not before - he might end up in debt because of that,but better than being dead for sure.

Anyway, donated some money, really wish he gets all the help he needs.

* Germany: In 2005, Germany spent 10.7% of GDP on health care, or US$3,628 per capita. Germany has Europe's oldest universal health care insurance system, with origins dating back to Otto von Bismarck's Social legislation, which included the Health Insurance Bill of 1883, Accident Insurance Bill of 1884, and Old Age and Disability Insurance Bill of 1889.

* US: According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the United States spent more on health care per capita ($7,146), and more on health care as percentage of its GDP (15.2%), than any other nation in 2008. The United States had the fourth highest level of government health care spending per capita ($3,426).


* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Healthcare_in_Germany

* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Healthcare_in_the_United_States

> Germany has Europe's oldest universal health care insurance system, with origins dating back to Otto von Bismarck...

I wasn't aware that a government-sponsored healthcare system this old existed in the world, because it's always seemed to me that such programs are fundamentally unsustainable.

So what I want to know is, how do they keep it sustainable? For example, if there's no longer a market where demand responds to price signals, how do they determine how much procedures cost? What keeps providers from increasing prices 5% every year, regardless of cost increases, until they're essentially looting taxpayers' money on a massive scale? If the government sets prices, how do you avoid damaging shortages or surpluses when it gets the pricing wrong? How about moral hazard -- the problem of people who waste healthcare resources by going to the doctor for every little sniffle, scrape and twinge since it's free? What keeps people in other countries who don't pay into the system from getting a burning desire to move to Germany when they find out they have something really expensive to treat like cancer or AIDS?

I'm not sure about Germany, but in Denmark it's just a service of the state. Doctors' salary, and hospitals' equipment needs, are assessed and negotiated the same way as with other sectors of the public-safety apparatus, such as the police department, fire department, and military. You'd like to keep your hospitals well-stocked, your fire engines maintained and modern, your air force state-of-the-art, etc., but without spending infinite money on any of those, so similar decision-making procedures are used for each. Some services are contracted out to the private sector on a competitive-bidding basis. For example, private companies run a number of the ambulance services, and also the Copenhagen bus system: the government draws up its requirements, solicits bids, and chooses a bidder, who then gets an N-year contract. In addition, there are medical-device manufacturers, both foreign and domestic, who sell on the same competitive-bidding basis. So far the bidding seems to be relatively clean, especially compared to, say, what happens with U.S. defense contractors.

Moral hazard doesn't seem to be a large problem with hospital services (doctors aren't going to order an unnecessary surgery), and there is a strong culture against unnecessary prescription drugs. So about the worst that can happen is someone wastes their local physician's time 30 minutes at a time. Since small-time office visits aren't where most of the healthcare costs go (in either Denmark or the U.S.), it's a minor concern. As far as foreigners, that's a concern, and handled by the immigration system (you probably won't get a visa if that's the reason you're trying to enter). The main current concern is intra-EU system-shopping of that sort from Europeans, who don't need visas. There are attempts to standardize something around that (the EU "blue card" scheme is one), but it's one of those awkward areas that showcases the EU's quasi-integration. There is also a debate currently about whether Denmark should start charging tourists, since it's one of the few countries that provides completely free emergency care to anyone. Many see this as the right thing to do: if a visitor is injured in a mugging, for example, some people view charging them for the hospital visit as adding insult to injury, like sending them a bill for the police investigation would be. But there is also annoyance that other countries don't reciprocate, so a little bit of a sentiment of, "well if the bastards are going to charge me for getting mugged in NYC, let's charge them when they come here".

> the worst that can happen is someone wastes their local physician's time 30 minutes at a time

I've also heard a theory that this isn't a bad thing: IIRC in Japan there's a culture of going to the GP for every tiny little thing, which means that they have a massive number of 5-minute visits - but potentially serious illnesses are spotted and cured before they become serious, which means that overall health costs are lower and results are better.

The USA does not have a culture against prescription drugs. On the contrary, many patients are not satisfied unless the doctor gives them some pills. Antibiotics are often demanded even for viral infections, which probably lead directly to MRSA and other drug-resistant bacteria.

That's true; I think there are definitely cultural factors that make such a system harder to implement in the US. An even bigger one is probably differing attitudes towards end-of-life "heroic measures". I had in mind more a culture among doctors, though: Danish doctors will simply not give you antibiotics no matter how much you beg, if they consider it unnecessary. That's also a norm among American doctors, increasingly emphasized in med school and by professional organizations, but it doesn't seem as strongly followed in practice. That may also be related to the American quasi-private system, which allows "doctor-shopping": if the first says no, you can always find another one who'll write the prescription (and some doctors even make a business out of a word-of-mouth reputation for being lax with prescriptions).

And weirdly, non-compliance with medication is roughly similar in the US (very expensive meds) and the UK (cheap meds, and 80% of people who need a prescription don't pay anything).

There's not much change if you look at the severity of need for meds either - many organ transplants fail because people don't comply with the meds.

I don't think that health care is a market. Sure, you can take your headache or buy a pill, but you cannot choose to have a life-saving procedure or not, less even compare prices (really).

Further, if you spread the risk of getting ill across a whole nation, paying for health insurance gets cheaper for each individual. You cannot have that with a health care market.

Anyways, your questions concerning sustainability are valid.

There's a catalog about how much health care providers get from insurance companies for each procedure. I don't know who sets up that catalog or how it is negotiated, though.

Recently, a (small) fee has been added which you have to pay once per quarter if you visit a doctor. Further, you have to pay a small amount (~$5) for each medication you buy (unless you need a lot of it). So, people don't visit the doctor and buy medication that easily (anymore).

People who have not paid into the system are only treated for acutely life-threatening symptoms (and even then have to pay for themselves). To pay into the system, you usually need to have a job, so it's not something that you can just do once you see you have a costly illness.

> government-sponsored healthcare system ... always seemed to me that such programs are fundamentally unsustainable.

What is it about them that seems unsustainable to you? Are you an economist or an accountant? Do you have a citation to back up this point of view?

Here's a recent one against it: http://www.cepr.net/index.php/op-eds-&-columns/op-eds-&#...

> > Germany has Europe's oldest universal health care insurance system, with origins dating back to Otto von Bismarck...

> I wasn't aware that a government-sponsored healthcare system this old existed in the world, because it's always seemed to me that such programs are fundamentally unsustainable.

They are not fundamentally unsustainable but Germany's current social system is unsustainable and will eventually fail because the demography and economics have undergone massive changes since it has been designed.

> So what I want to know is, how do they keep it sustainable For example, if there's no longer a market where demand responds to price signals, how do they determine how much procedures cost?

We do have a market in which insurance and health care providers negotiate prices and as you can see not only does this work it works a lot better than the US market does.

> What keeps providers from increasing prices 5% every year, regardless of cost increases, until they're essentially looting taxpayers' money on a massive scale?

Health care providers can't set arbitrary prices and insurance providers are regulated. Also insurance is mandatory but not paid for from taxes unless you don't have any income. The mandatory social insurances, of which there are four, all get paid a certain amount relative to your income.

> If the government sets prices, how do you avoid damaging shortages or surpluses when it gets the pricing wrong?

See above. The government doesn't set the prices.

> How about moral hazard -- the problem of people who waste healthcare resources by going to the doctor for every little sniffle, scrape and twinge since it's free?

You want to detect serious stuff early to keep the costs down, so to a certain degree you want that to happen. Apart from that there is a small 10€ fee you have to pay once every quarter for each doctor you visit unless you were referred to him by another doctor. This keeps moral hazard down and especially prevents unnecessary visits to specialized doctors.

> What keeps people in other countries who don't pay into the system from getting a burning desire to move to Germany when they find out they have something really expensive to treat like cancer or AIDS?

Like moral hazard this is not such a big issue as one might think it is. Most people tend to be reluctant to make such big moves, especially if they don't speak the local language which applies even more so if the topic they would like to talk about is their health. Apart from that there aren't that many countries in the world with a health care system as catastrophic as the one in the US.

More importantly though the people who do actually move to Germany for treatment tend to have lots of money and have no problem spending it on their health. So these patients are flown into the hospital using the dedicated helipad, on top of the luxury ward, in which they wait for overpriced procedures and get their overpriced medications.

That's TOTAL expenditure (public and private). It's misleading to include private insurance and self payments unless you're talking about the total cost of healthcare.[1]

The German government covers 77% of its citizens health care costs. The US government covers 48%.

In countries like Germany, I am sure that 77% number is evenly distributed across the population. I.e. All citizens are mostly covered by government insurance. In the US, I am sure the number is disproportional to the elderly and on government assistance, such that people between 20-60 are not covered by any government insurance. So it's a bit more lop-sided than the Wikipedia chart says.

[1] http://www.oecd.org/health/healthpoliciesanddata/oecdhealthd...

I suspect the 77% is skewed towards the poor - in most European states only the fairly well off would ever go to a private hospital in the first place.

Yet I am sure that this man would never ever be in a situation like this, had it happened in Germany. I know how it's like in EU - if an operation is life-saving they always do it first,then ask for the money, not the other way around, as it seems to be in the US.

These are old numbers... America is forecast to spend 17 or 18% of GDP on healthcare this year...

Its not about how much money you spend, but how you spend it.

USA has made the enourmous mistake of making of health a large business managed by private corporations that dont care about human life. Just money. Other countries see health as a right (luckily thats the case here in Argentina). So, most medics dont get super rich. They work for a salary, they dont get 30 or 50 grand for a surgery. But they still do their job, they work hard and they give their best (well, most of them). Because when you choose that kind of profession, its not for making lots of money, but to help people. Or at least, thats how it should be, and I'm absolutely sure that there are lots of medical doctors there that think this way, but they are just the little fishes inside a pool full with big sharks.

I feel sorry for you USA, because you lost it and you wont get it back. There are lots of interests against it.

There's not political will, there's not professional will (AMA anyone). Sometimes, from the outside it seems like there's not even a cultural or popular will. A few months ago I discussed this with an American friend and he was totally against universal health care. His argument was something like "why should my taxes pay for some random unemployed or most probably lazy man's health" "if he gets free health care he won't work as hard" "if i make more money why should he have the same benefits as me?" And my answer "because he's a human being too"didn't seem to help.

You said it yourself, 17/18 % of the biggest gdp in the world and still cant take care of all of your people. Think about it. Just imagine what you could do with that money in a different system.

Seeing this kind of things happening there I can only think about the USA, as a strange place. Home of great technological progress and sad social regress.

Dont take it personal.

> I feel sorry for you USA, because you lost it and you wont get it back.

The position that the USA "lost" the policy of "health as a right" is nonsensical, because it never previously possessed it in its 236 years of existence. You might want to try a different narrative archetype.

And what exactly the money have been used for? In this case I suspect quantity != quality.

As an update: http://linuxlock.blogspot.com/2012/08/it-started-with-hopele...

While he still needs money, they did find a doctor to perform the surgery. But don't let that stop you from donating, if you're able.

He also answered a question that I had: he's a veteran, so he should qualify for VA medical assistance. According to his post above, the VA system moves too slow to stop his rapidly spreading cancer.

About the VA. What he would receive (this includes medical care) depends on his level of service. Was he in combat? Was in injured while on active duty? And many other factors.

All this takes time for the VA to consider. And worse still, there's a HUGE backlog of claims right now (for obvious reasons).

Just pointing this out in case anyone declines to help out cause you're hoping the VA will come through. I mean, they will, it will take time though. And he doesn't have time.

What he would receive depends on his level of service. Was he in combat? Was in injured?

Tangent, that's good to hear. I've known more than a few individuals who pushed paper in the service for two years and actively avoided a tour, and seemed to be reaping all the same benefits as the ones who saw combat.

Finding a pro-bono doctor was in the plans from the start, if I get it right. And the doctor should have never been in the $50,000 total. cit: "The cost just to book the OR for Ken's surgery is $50,000, and that doesn't include the surgery itself, nor any post-op medical expenses."

Wow $50,000?!

This is an advice: I think with this kind of money they can fly somewhere else and do the operation and pay all costs associated with money to spare.

I think they can even try that in Canada

Yes that's insane. I also suggested about health tourism on the blog page. I think you may have the operation and after care - first world grade - in Turkey for ~50K. May be even lower.

IIRC, even if a doctor is willing to donate their time, there are still large expenses for any major surgery (cost of the room, consumables, multiple nurses, anesthesiologist's time, etc.)

SSI disability payments should not count against Medicare income limits.

The United States fucking sucks sometimes.

I simply cannot comprehend our [as a nation] almost religious stance vis a vis public healthcare. Hearing stories like this literally upsets me, because it is totally unnecessary. We are better than this.

You think our health care is bad?


5% of our 300 million population is starving/malnourished children.

Then there's the worrying proportion that's gargantuanly over-weight, and an even larger proportion in woefully under-performing schools.

Sometimes you wonder if the kids in less affluent countries don't have it better.

Then you look at international health statistics and stop wondering.

Lifespan is a good first pass indicator of the quality of health care.

Life expectancy != quality of life. Yes, a markedly low LE will mean something, but apart from that, it's nothing to hang your hat on.

Those overweight children are more than likely hideously malnourished, so unless they are just counting malnourished as underfed they should count into that statistic. Which makes 5% seem oddly low.

It's a mess that's up to the discretion of each state. This page has information on how SSI and Medicaid interact: http://www.ssa.gov/disabilityresearch/wi/medicaid.htm

In 32 states, being on SSI disability payment generally qualifies you for Medicaid without a further application, unless you also have additional income. States then vary in how much additional income, and in some you can still "buy in" to Medicaid even above the threshold, by paying some of the premium out of your additional income.

In other states the criteria for SSI disability and Medicaid are different, and may interact badly, with someone on SSI considered "not poor enough" for Medicaid. This is particularly likely in states with extremely low Medicaid thresholds where even someone at the poverty line wouldn't qualify. Here is a summary of the overall effect of all those variations: http://www.workworld.org/wwwebhelp/state_1619_b_threshold_am...

The upcoming PPACA Medicaid expansion may sort out some of it, for states that don't opt out, but we'll see.

It's Medicaid he needs. Not Medicare (though Medicare would allow him to deal with this too). There's a huge difference.

Donated $50. I realize we're trying not to rant about the healthcare system too much, so all I will say is that this is exactly why the system is a problem. What's the point of all our technology and "progress" if we still don't provide reasonable care to all?

How do you define reasonable?

How about surgery to deal with a metastasizing cancer that is highly efficacious? That seems very reasonable to me.

Not having to resort to donations for life saving surgery?

The other two comments (at this moment) summed it up pretty well. The treatment has a high rate of success (80%) and is in no way "experimental". If something has become a part of the standard medical "toolbox", providing it to everyone is reasonable. There is simply no excuse for our current system, especially when other countries provide care and spend less to do it.

I still question the lack of healthcare in a developed nation.

Yeah, in a nation like USA (or actually anywhere, but let's be realistic) no one should die because they can't afford a standard treatment. I am from Italy and the first times I couldn't believe it.

According to the movie "Sicko", the doctors working in the Health Maintenance Organizations are being told: "You are not preventing care, you are preventing payment" as they are encouraged to deny as many requests as they can.

The danger is that people will over-use the public system. Governments can solve this by offering a really bad customer experience (Soviet architecture, putting an experienced nurse at the front desk rather than a cute 20-year-old girl, bad food, less choices, and so on). People often prefer private hospitals, even when public hospitals offer superior treatment. This takes the load off the public system, allowing it to serve the people who need it.

> The danger is that people will over-use the public system.

How does that work exactly?

I'm trying to think of how I could even deliberately overuse health care, in the event that I decided health care were something desirable rather than something I tend to avoid because it's boring. The best I can come up with would be to hit myself with a hammer occasionally, necessitating treatment of the injury. I'm not sure why people with a public system would deliberately do something like that.

I'm not really trying to be facetious. This seems to be one of the ways in which health care isn't like any consumer product: people really do not want as much of it as they can get. In terms of preventative medicine, just getting them to use it can be quite a chore. In terms of treatment of disease or injury, I don't see how using it for its intended purpose qualifies as "overuse."

This is actually a common problem with what is, in practice, an already socialized portion of American healthcare: Emergency Rooms

Since emergency rooms cannot turn patients away, there are a lot of people to come to the emergency rooms for things like pains in their big toe, menstrual cramps, and so on.

This is why the emergency room is so absurdly expensive in the United States. Health care here really isn't very expensive so long as you go nowhere near the emergency room.

Sources: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2011/09/25/1839726/state-decid... http://www.bizjournals.com/albuquerque/print-edition/2011/09... http://birminghammedicalnews.com/news.php?viewStory=1275

But your logic here is flawed. People go to the ER for those things, which are normally legitimate problems, because they can't afford to go to a regular physician. It's sort of ironic that you would pick this example. The idea that health care here really isn't expensive outside of ERs ... is just kind of ridiculous. I think it would be a better argument to say "I don't care about them, screw them if they can't pay" than to use this reasoning -- at least it has the potential for being realistic.

Yeah but in the UK, we go to our GP for such things and it reduces the load on A&E

Some people go to their GP and that helps reduce the load. But see the need for out of hours doctors clinics being placed in the same place as A&E units - Swindon has electronic signs telling you the estimated wait times for each unit, with big signs telling you where out of hours doctors unit is.

Continuing to remind people about pharmacists, NHS_Direct, GPs, and out of hours GPs is helping reduce pressure on the NHS, but still.

See also the gently cheeky "Acute admission units" - a method for A&E units to avoid the penalties for keeping people longer than 4 hours by cycling people out of A&E and into aau for monitoring and then release or admission into hospital proper.

Over the past 5 years I have seen many A&E units; and spent many many hours in them. They have all been very busy, and often with many people who probably didn't need to be there. (Although I have no way on knowing that; I am not a doctor and I have no medical training and there's no way of telling just by looking at someone if they should be there or not.)

The most serious problem in all of them was people turning up for things that were very minor - a splinter; a bruised ankle; some other very minor injuries. These are the kind of things that may need treatment, but you don't need to go right that instant to hospital. I didn't even mind the people who were waiting quietly, but you hear people grumbling about the wait times. I'm not sure they realised that there are minors, majors, and resus, and that if there are 8 ambulances outside it's likely that majors is chock-a-block and all the clinicians are a bit busy tonight.

Why don't they categorise people into priorities so someone comes in with a broken arm, they get seen faster than someone with a graze?

Perhaps this could be solved algorithmically.

They do triage.

But someone with a broken arm is in a lot of pain; someone with X is at risk of death. And if you have people that need to be triaged that's one less nurse for treatment (because they're triaging) and the triage queue gets long.

And the people with a graze are likely to have to wait a very long time, because (for some reason) it's not acceptable to tell people to go and see someone more appropriate. These people also count against the hospital for the 4 hour wait limit for A&E patients.

Your blaming the patients, without considering the lack of primary care in the US. Some HMO "covered" Primary Care Providers(Physicians) have a 2-3 week wait for an appointment etc.

Certain hospitals have "express care" or "urgent care" on premises, that will treat patients without insurance, same as the ER. Santa Clara Valley Medical Center has a pretty efficient "express care" clinic.

Firefighter / paramedic (/ IT geek) here: I took a patient today out of the ER (via ambulance) to a skilled nursing facility. There were a lot (for us, 6+) ambulances in the receiving bay. Patient comments: "Wow, busy. Usually when I'm going to the ER, and I see that many ambulances, I say to my friend "we'll come back tomorrow when it's quieter"."

Read into that what you will.

Seems clear that if this is a real problem, then there needs to be a system to siphon off those people so they aren't clogging up the ER for those concerns.

But ERs already have a system to limit 'abuse' by people with minor complaints: triage.

Actually, triage is to ensure that those who have the most life threatening conditions are treated first. So you might have a life threatening condition that will kill you in an hour, but a gun-shot victim might die immediately. He goes in front of you.

The problem isn't that demand is insatiable for all people. Economists assume that every individual's demand is insatiable for ... dubious reasons.

I think it's more the "80/20" customers - old people who are bored. Drug addicts begging for pain killers. Hypochondriacs. People who have done their own diagnosis and want the doctor to give them their antibiotics (when it's really a common cold, and antibiotics won't help). There's a common meme on HN that free services attract bad customers.

The RAND study on health insurance and healthcare consumption showed that healthcare is indeed an elastic product.

Ordering unnecessary scans or tests; being prescribed medicine you don't really need like antibiotics, painkillers, or antidepressants; demanding second/third/fourth opinions.

In a public system, patients cannot order scans or tests; that is the doctor to judge. Also, ideally, a doctor isn't paid more if he orders more tests/does more work.

One thing people can and will do is not so much 'demanding second opinions', but 'revisiting the same doctor to get reassured'. The latter does not have to be that expensive, if the cultural norms are OK. There are countries with costly culture where a visit to a doctor must end with a prescription or treatment. In other countries, patients leave happily with the message "it does not look broken and it isn't infected; if the swelling does not go away in two weeks, come back"

It isn't like a health safety net even has to be all that expensive. A good mixed system looks after the poorest people and everyone else is encouraged (with tax penalties etc) to have private health insurance. In a wealthy country hardly anyone should be poor or unemployed anyway so the costs aren't that great. The US is a triumph of ideology over common sense.

I really hope paypal don't freeze the account for 180 days while they investigate.

Of all the crap we throw money at, I see absolutely no reason not to help this man out. Donated.

Indiegogo campaign: http://www.indiegogo.com/helios (RE-EDIT: IndieGoGo takes 9% fee but PayPal is known for account freezing, the choice is up to you)

Note that your donation goes 9% further if you just donate directly rather than through IndieGoGo.

Even better if they avoided PayPal, for the number of reasons we all know (and because they can't afford an account suspension)

P.S. thanks, editing the comment

Phew! If I had read the comments here before the article I would have donated through IndieGoGo instead of PayPal.

But I said IndieGoGo results in a smaller donation... (They take a 9% cut in addition to PayPal/merchant fees.)

Donated $40.

Two days ago, there was a post on HN announcing Watsi, essentially a Kickstarter for healthcare (Sorry if I'm discrediting it's overall value in any way, it's a great idea: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4424081). Most of us in the Western world aren't the target audience for Watsi, but this seems appropriate. Can we not make this happen and see a cohesive case to be made for those asking questions about cause and background?

We have closed donations coming directly through PayPal. Thank you to everyone who has been so generous. The IndieGoGo campaign will remain open for another day or so, but we can't keep taking donations when we've now clearly met our goal.

The $50,000 we collected in 10 days will more than cover all of Ken's medical expenses as he continues through his difficult cancer treatment. Thank you to everyone who helped out, you are all wonderful people. :)


I'm sorry to be so ignorant when it comes to linux core (perhaps?) developers, but the entire blog post didn't mention his name nor his wife signed it with hers so I could at least assume who he is.

Ken Starks. From the post on http://thomasaknight.com/

$ cd kernel ; git log | egrep -i starks $

Nothing there.

It would help if they told us what his contribution actually was.

I could be wrong but I don't think he was a developer. From the pieces I've read it looks like his contribution to linux, seems to be distributing it through donations of old computers with linux installed to people / organizations in need.

He runs an organization/project called Reglue (http://reglue.org/). They give out computers to children who otherwise would not be able to get one.

If you live in Texas you should consider cleaning out your closet and donating some computers to the cause. They're basically looking for P4 class machines and better. Something gathering dust in your closet can changes a kid's life forever.

It's funny how we assume (well, at least I did) how contributer has to be a developer.

The title of the story is "help a linux dev[eloper]"

I would gladly pay 5% more income tax to be on par with Canada as far as rates go, if the USA got single-payer healthcare.

It'd cost quite a bit more than that. 5% of the income tax is only like $50 billion dollars, which is dwarfed by our current Medicare/Medicaid spending to cover a fraction of the population. Maybe something like doubling everyone's taxes could do it?

That is if we kept spending at current levels. Canada spends much less on healthcare than the united states. Canadian life expectancy is also higher, which leads me to believe that their gasp socialist healthcare system is actually more efficient.

Our government already spends more money on Medicare/Medicaid than most other governments spend on healthcare. I don't see how we could possibly lower our government spending by covering more people.

Friend of mine got charged almost a thousand dollars just for being taken to hospital in an ambulance. The journey lasted about ten minutes.

This kind of massively-overinflated cost is endemic in US healthcare. Getting rid of it would easily allow you to lower spending whilst covering more people.

You're misunderstanding my point. Our public healthcare systems, Medicare and Medicaid, are already more expensive than many national healthcare programs. So forget whatever you friend spends in the private sector. Even if all people not on Medicare/Medicaid spent absolutely nothing on healthcare, we would still be spending more money than these other countries in total. So the idea that we can somehow expand coverage while wildly reducing costs seems silly.

Well if Mitt & CO win, who knows Medicare vouchers might become a reality. Then when people are thrown out of hospitals by the ends of their colostomy bags and IVs, a single payer system might appear to be a bit better solution. All the VA (socialized healthcare for people in the military-industrial complex) and Medi* (socialized healthcare for old people/boomers) are doing is creating an insurance market for people outside these demographics, which constitutes the nations supply of genx/geny workers. If I did not have insurance under obamacare I would have to pay $4068.15 so far this year. This was for one emergency room visit lasting an hour and 2 doctors appointments. If I didn't have insurance I just wouldn't have paid it.

Do like Mitt does, keep your money outside the country where the Government can't get it.

Well I have great news for you. Right on the 1040 form there is a spot where you can elect to pay more. I suggest that you do next year. Or just send the treasury a check.

That won't enact single-payer healthcare or even increase the standard of healthcare by an epsilon. So your answer misses the point in addition to being unconstructively snarky.

Yes some of us don't want single payer healthcare. And I did mean to be snarky.

Hackernews has been very kind to me through the years, glad I can send a few dollars to return the favor

He needs to get himself admitted to a major academic medical center, possibly via the ED.

Quote from indiegogo:

    8/25 - Update 4: Thank you!

    I can't thank you enough. Not only have we found Ken a surgeon, but the surgeon has agreed to 
    do the surgery for a fraction of the original cost. We have raised $47,600 total now, enough 
    to cover the surgery, any and all pre and post op medical expenses, all medication Ken will 
    need for the foreseeable future, and there might even be some left over to go to Reglue.

    I can't stress enough how thankful I am to everyone who has helped. The outpouring of support 
    is amazing. You are all wonderful people. :)

    Thank you.

I just donated via Paypal given the comments about the 9% vs Paypal fees. However it got me thinking from reading the indiegogo site:

"The cost just to book the OR for Ken's surgery is $50,000, and that doesn't include the surgery itself, nor any post-op medical expenses."

What is the total cost of expenses, or is that unknown? Knowing how much is needed would possibly help raise more funds.

In general American health care is a giant black box. Depending on the deal your insurance company has cut is how much stuff costs. Most doctors offices cant tell you how much anything costs, which is why i opt out of all tests.

My donations went to "DragonWing Software", I hope that's correct.

Thomas A. Knight has put up a page that tells Ken's story and he's volunteered to host the fund raising page for this effort.

I believe it's Thomas' company.

Yes. DragonWing Software is my software contracting company. I also publish my books under DragonWing Publishing.


Correct. It is Knight's company, and he is managing the fund raising.

Cool, happy to know it's gone to the right person.

$50. Nobody should be in this situation. The US system is appalling.

Ok, I trust Hacker News and I am donating whatever I am capable of.

I donated $30 (thought I'd add more social proof while I'm here).

America does seem to be a country where it's devil take the hindmost but people who live here in Europe find plenty to complain about in our systems too.

Donated £13.06 according to paypal.

In the UK, the National Health Service certainly has inefficiencies, delays and issues. However, care is free at the point of need.

I suppose there are different ways of rationing a resource for which there is theoretically an infinite need. I prefer the way we do it in the UK.

Set aside the debates on healthcare, the awful reality of this man have to raise funds to keep him alive, or any other political rhetoric.

Most of us, even the most starving bootstrapper of the bunch, has enough change in his/her pocket to make an impact on a real human life.

Let's not brag about what we donated, or how much, or if we donated at all. But please everyone, let's reach out for someone who needs us like every good human should.

I donated $10, I wish him better health and good luck

I just donated through paypal. Hopefully the account will hold up ok.

Geeks with heart. You're a lovely bunch HN peeps...

Wishing Diane and Ken all the best.

donated $100, hope he gets better.


I'm happy to see these kickstarter clones popping up for medical causes. I'm much more apt to donate when I can better see where my money is going (and hope I don't get scammed in the process).

Donated. Now what about fixing your health care system, Uncle Sam?

Don't know the man, a little sad that we have to support the screwed up US medical system, but I've given money because I have it and he doesn't.

Just donated $35.

Holy fuck is your healthcare system stupid.

Donated. Get well Ken.

You are all lovely people. <3

Donated $50. Get well Ken.

donated $40. Get well soon.

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