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Thursday, January 08, 2009

Why Insurance Companies Suck

Ok, follow along if you can- The Pirate's Cousin's Cousin (or, my brother-in-law's brother's son) (got it?) is a very sick little boy. In the fall of 2007 they discovered that he had a tumor in his brain. He had surgery and got all better. Then he wasn't better and had some super scary sugery last summer. Now his insurance is refusing to pay for treatment that they are calling "experimental." With treatment, he has a 80% chance of survival. I do not even want to think about what his chances are without the treatment.

Cooper and his family are (or were, before this) often at my in-law's house for family events and birthdays. They go to ball games to watch The Pirate's cousin play ball, games that we also go to. These are not strangers to me. Cooper and The Pirate are the same age.

The family is trying to raise the money to pay for the treatment, but the hospitals require a hefty amount down before they will proceed. The treatment itself will be about $400,000. Could you find $400,00 in your pocket if your insurance company denied your kid treatment? I couldn't. In my real life, I am a loan officer. I give people loans for cars that cost 1/20th or 1/10th the cost of his treatment. I do home equity loans for 1/4 the cost of the treatment. But I can't do a loan for medical bills, because that is "risky." This family has to have chili suppers and raffles and collect money for Ronald McDonald house so that their little boy can live. They have a little fund at a local credit union and are begging for money. How's that right?

Our local paper just had an article about Cooper and his whole struggle (and I stole their picture.) I'm not an overly religious person, but if I were, I'd ask that you keep the family in your thoughts and prayers.


  1. They are in my thoughts and prayers. It's a bit silly but I remember another family going through something similar and they posted it on Ebay and got a slew of donations. They had to pay taxes on it, but I seem to remember them getting the money they needed. All they asked for was $1 or something like that.

    When my son was in the hospital it made me think about kids that are forced to be there all the time. It broke my heart.

  2. Both insurance companies and our health care system stink. I will keep your family in my prayers.

  3. Oh god. That's terrible. As much as everyone here in England complains about the state of our national healthcare at least things like this don't happen (as often) It's not right.

  4. This kind of story makes my stomach turn. It just isn't right and something needs to be done about it. He deserves treatment and the parents shouldn't have to pay for any of it IMO! Reminds me of Michael Moore's Sicko documentary. Leaves a very bitter taste in the mouth. He and his family will be in my prayers.

  5. We were on the opposite end of an insurance screw-up, where my son had a mild form of childhood epilepsy that children usually outgrow and which required no medication. When my husband left his job and I tried to get insurance as a self-employed businessperson, no one would extend coverage to my son so I had to apply to our state major medical risk insurance fund, the last resort for uninsurables. It probably saved me a lot of money, but it was a totally inappropriate use of taxpayers' money for something as benign as what my son had. I think a lot of people have stories like yours and we need to get more of them out there, as painful and personal as they are. There are still some people who believe "this can't happen in America." Thank you for sharing with us, and I'll be sending all the good thoughts your way that I can.

  6. Even though both hubby and I work for insurance companies (although we are commercial, not personal, lines) I agree that something needs to be done about the health insurance/healthcare. Best wishes to your family.

  7. I'm thinking of them. Strangely enough, I just posted about growing up afraid of getting sick and how I still can't believe how much better things are here in Australia.

    Maybe they can raise money for a trip somewhere where the medical treatment will be cheaper?

  8. I'm sorry to hear about this little boy and all his family is going through. I'll be praying....

  9. I am so sorry to hear about this little boy. My father was recently diagnosed with stage IV cancer of unknown origin. In October, he was hurting a little, but nothing big. He got diagnosed around Thanksgiving. He is currently in the hospital fighting for his life as the cancer is basically out of control in his body. It all happened so quickly that we have hardly had a chance to react.

    My father does not have any chance at recovery. He is basically in treatment for containment and pain. But I cannot imagine that if I knew of a treatment that could save his life that I would not jump at it- experimental or not. He is dying anyway, is he not? So I can imagine that your family would also do anything to save this boy, and they have done so.

    Insurance companies are absolutely horrendous. You don't have to tell me. My father is on Medicare. They will not even allow us to receive Hospice care until he quits treatment even though he qualifies under Hospice conditions. He requires around-the-clock care. They don't care what kind of burden that places on a family or what might actually help the patient die with dignity or live the remainder of their life as pain-free as possible. It is insanity.

    I completely empathize with your family and the cancer and the insurance fiasco. They will be in my thoughts and prayers. At least my father has had 67 years. This boy is so young.

    Please keep us updated. I hope that somewhere a loophole or miracle can be found.


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