Ever wonder who would inhabit the deepest reaches of hell were Dante to return and rewrite his famous Inferno?
The easy choices, if we’re looking at it collectively, are surly DMV employees, self-aggrandizing school board members and self-righteous do-gooders who miss no opportunity to sing their own praises while informing you of your own missteps.
As if the above alone wouldn’t fill up at least a couple of circles of hell, there’s another group which deserves its own special place in perdition: health insurers who make life insufferably difficult for those with serious illnesses.
I have a friend who is battling leukemia. She is in her early 40s and she and her husband have a beautiful 7-year-old daughter. She has traveled to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, many times for treatment but lives in Florida. Beyond the unfairness of a wonderful person with a great husband and sweet young child having to battle of a life-threatening illness, she also has to fight insurers which routinely deny her coverage for needed cancer-treatment medication.
My friend’s medical team has sent documents in triplicate to her insurers – Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Florida (Florida Blue) and Prime Therapeutics – several times and each time insurance representatives have claimed that “they have no way to attach the documents to each other” or that they “have not received them.”
The folks at Florida Blue – whose slogan is, ironically, “Here For You, in Your Pursuit of Health” – have decided not to cover my friend’s prescription even though it’s on their list of approved medications.
Because of this, my friend has been without anti-cancer medication for a month, obviously not a good thing for someone with leukemia.
Her doctors, nurses and health care providers have been working diligently to get the correct papers into their hands for several weeks. Yet, a month later she is still without needed medicine and no answers.
I understand insurance is a business, but I don’t understand how paper pushers in any corporation can deny coverage to someone whose life is at stake when the needed medication is on the list of those already approved by the insurer.
At what point does someone within the company say “Enough!” and blow the whistle on this sort of unethical and, most likely, illegal, activity?
How many other examples like this are going on at health insurers across the nation?
Finally, how do the people who knowingly deny insurance coverage, and most certainly understand that they are jeopardizing lives in doing so, live with themselves? Can it be that easy to suspend ethics, compassion and decency?
Dante would have a field day with folks like those at Florida Blue and Prime Therapeutics.