Pay Your Dues…Now Pay Up

Last week a man called me, rather adamant about doing a local story on the ‘evils of socialized medicine.’ He says he’s fighting for his life because of what he went through while fighting for this country. Now he’s *also* fighting our health insurance system to get the care he needs.

He now lives in Wilmington but spent his younger years in Vietnam where he was exposed to Agent Orange. He says it’s because of that exposure that he developed a particularly deadly and aggressive form of cancer that requires intensive oncology treatments to fight.

When he was first diagnosed, he ran his health insurance claims through the Veterans Health Administration. They denied his claim and he spent years appealing it. During that time, he used his Blue Cross Blue Shield benefits to cover the cost of his cancer treatments. With all of the co-pays, he says he’s racked up about $70,000. All of those treatments have been through Hanover Medical Specialists in Wilmington.

He recently was told by the VA that they *would* pay his claims…in FULL. Thrilled…he called his oncologist at Hanover Medical Specialists who told him that they would not accept the VA plan. Of note, they do except other forms of government-funded health coverage (i.e. Medicare, Medicaid).

He was livid. He couldn’t believe that he had risked his life fighting for our freedom…and now he couldn’t get the help *HE* needed.

I called Hanover Medical Specialists who told me that the VA is slow to pay and its their choice as to what plans they would take. From what I’ve now read…the VA has a history of health care headaches. While it is certainly the right of any private facility to choose who they receive their income, this veteran felt it unfair that they would accept some government funded programs and not others. He also didn’t think “slow pay” was an acceptable reason for not helping a patient out. His exact response: “They HAVE a choice…because of the war WE fought for them.”

Hanover Medical Specialists did not want to do an interview…I wasn’t surprised. They repeated that they would get in touch with this man and “work something out.”

The next day, when I was getting ready to head out the door to interview this veteran…he called and said that Hanover Medical Specialists had had a change of heart. They WOULD take his VA coverage. He was happy that he wouldn’t have to leave his oncologist and that he now wouldn’t be saddled with astronomical health insurance bills.

He THEN said that he ALSO had had a change of heart…and didn’t want to go on camera anymore. While I’m glad those phone calls I made seem to have lit a fire under this guy’s case and helped get things moving…I’m very disappointed that he took that help and then bailed.

Still…I wanted to share what happened simply to make that point that with enough pressure and persistance…you CAN get the coverage you deserve and have paid for. Ask questions, know your plan and put them on the spot…it gets things done (obviously). Just please dont do it by confusing your local reporter with a patient advocate….


1 Comment

  1. I can’t believe he backed out on you, after you did all that work. He did the same thing to you, that the VA did to him.

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