This is Carrie again from Terra Publishing. A.E. Hayes is home from the hospital and is stable, but not improving, and the long-term prognosis isn’t good–for her health or her finances.
Today there is a total solar eclipse, and I can’t help but see a parallel between the moon blocking out the sun and healthcare and insurance company profits eclipsing patient needs.
Hayes’ insurance company refused to pay for a PICC line when she was in the hospital, claiming that they only cover them when done in an outpatient setting. The outpatient procedure is cheaper for them–and more expensive for her. This isn’t the first time necessary treatments and interventions have been denied or made difficult to obtain by her insurance…
The next morning, a social worker named Nick walked into my large, private hospital room. I’d joked–my breathing labored–with Toby and Catie the night before that we could throw a party in here. They agreed. I wondered if I should—if it would be a last party.
When Nick closed the door behind him, I knew things were serious.
“We’ve had five different doctors petition your insurance company for oxygen and IV infusions,” he said to me, sitting down in a chair next to my bed. “Insurance is denying all coverage.”
“Why? I don’t understand. We pay every month. We pay a lot every month.”
Nick pulled his chair closer to me. “I’ve spoken to your doctors here.” I saw tears fill his eyes.
“Just say it. Say what you’ve come here to say so that I know.”
“You’re terminal. You’re going to die.”
He held my hand for a few minutes while I stared out the window. James was going to be three in only a few months. We’d just bought a house. I was only thirty-two.
“I don’t accept that,” I said. “I want to fight back.”
“Insurance companies don’t tend to bend much.”
“They’ll bend. Or they’ll be all over the news. I’ll make them suffer.”
“You should get this story to every news outlet you can,” he said. “Your insurance company is deplorable—letting a young mother die.”
When I finally left the hospital days later—not any better, but knowing they had no reason to keep me there if I was actively dying—I started making calls. I called my insurance company daily and told every representative my story. I wasn’t going to die.
My new psychologist, Dr. E, told me to make a bucket list.
“Whatever you want to do between now and, say, three months from now,” she said, “you might want to write it down and try to do it.”
I automatically disliked her. She came highly recommended and absolutely believed she could help me regain some past memories, but I wasn’t going to accept my death as quickly as she was.
Instead, I started to embrace the business of living.
Hayes has followed through on that business ever since, but it has been a struggle. Right now she desperately needs IV medication and platelet therapies, but her insurance is making it difficult and expensive to receive treatment. Her treatments are very expensive, and now that she’s out of the hospital, to even see her doctor requires a $200 facility fee on top of whatever she owes directly to the physician–which she has to pay out of pocket until she meets a $6000+ deductible.
Whenever you see someone make an argument about wait times in socialized medicine, remember situations like this, when treatments are available but denied because of some insurance company’s rule or a patient’s ability to pay. At least with a wait time you know you will eventually receive treatment. It may be frustrating, but you don’t have to face the prospect that you might die because your case doesn’t match the rigid guidelines of your insurance company or because you simply don’t have the money.
A friend of Hayes’ has set up a GoFundMe campaign to help cover some of her more immediate medical expenses. If you can afford to contribute, please do. If you can’t, please help by sharing the campaign on social media–someone you know may be able to contribute.
https://www.gofundme.com/savemandimd (Mandi is short for Amanda, which is the A in A.E.)
If you haven’t yet pre-ordered Shattered, now’s the perfect time to show your support.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
-Carrie Miller, owner and editor of Terra Publishing and Stars and Stone Books