My father-in-law passed away early this spring after a very long, very painful battle with cancer. The last 6 months or so of his life was spent in a cancer clinic receiving chemo treatments 2 or 3 times per week.
I can say pretty definitely that medicine prolonged his life, I have a really hard time deciding whether it was worth it – but those aren’t really conversations you can have with anyone can you?
After he passed away his wife spent months going through all of the medical bills trying to make sense of them. He typically took care of these things, but those last two years were really tough and I think that he was getting a bit addled.
It took her awhile – maybe three months – to organize all of the bills and get them filed for payment. But she finally completed that herculean task. And then the worst happened. The claims came back one by one with DENIED written across the top.
Not only had my mother-in-law lost her husband of almost forty years but the insurance that they had been counting on to cover hundreds-of-thousands of dollars was being denied to her. Needless to say she was more than a little distressed.
To many of you this comes as no surprise – in fact you were probably expecting this outcome as soon as you started reading. To the family, this was completely unexpected.
So she called the insurance company to find out why all of the claims were being denied. It turns out that my father-in-law had changed his coverage about two years ago. He changed that coverage to the most basic coverage that Illinois law allows.
Needless to say that the minimum coverage doesn’t cover extensive chemotherapy, frequent doctor visits, huge regimes of drugs and specialists that were used very liberally to keep the man alive.
I doubt that this is what he had intended to do. Like I said, he was very sick – and very proud. Too proud to turn the increasingly burdensome task of handling medical bills to his wife or anyone else in the family. His wife felt the same way.
So she called the insurance company and pled her case. Needless to say they were sympathetic to her story. They had signed documents, the law and a case history of at least two years on their side. My father-in-law did not have – nor did he pay for – insurance coverage that would pay for this massive set of bills.
But she never gave up. She kept calling different departments at different levels of responsibility until someone finally relented. Whether it was to get her to leave them alone or because they were persuaded that it was simply illogical that a very sick man would voluntarily cancel insurance that were paying for services that he was already using I don’t know.
But in the end they agreed to cover over $200K of bills – minus the missed premium payments.
Keep this in mind the next time you hear that all insurance companies simply drop coverage as soon as their customers get expensive. I’m claiming that this practice is wide spread. After all companies don’t stay in business if they simply give money away to everyone that asks for it. But they aren’t necessarily the cold-hearted, money-grabbing bastards that they are often portrayed to be.