When assistance with health insurance is won by chance...
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/25/us/tennessee-holds-health-care-lottery-for-the-poor.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 NASHVILLE — Two nights a year, Tennessee holds a health care lottery of sorts, giving the medically desperate a chance to get help.

Adrian Casteel, 55, of Nashville, has a heart condition and a steel plate in his back. He has been on Medicare for nine years, but about 20 percent of his expenses are not covered.

State residents who have high medical bills but would not normally qualify for Medicaid, the government health care program for the poor, can call a state phone line and request an application. But the window is tight — the line shuts down after 2,500 calls, typically within an hour — and the demand is so high that it is difficult to get through.
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Technical glitches can thwart callers’ chances. According to the Tennessee Department of Human Services, which operates the phone line, callers did not start getting through until 6:38 p.m., and 2,500 calls, the maximum, had been received by 7:23. The department is investigating what caused the glitch, a spokeswoman said.

“People started calling here panicked and crying,” said Michele Johnson, a lawyer with the Tennessee Justice Center. “We told them, ‘Just hang on, keep trying.’ ”