The implementation of the Affordable Care Act has been for many in Washington, D.C., a frustrating and embarrassing experience. Indeed, from the glitchy healthcare.gov website to unflattering hearings on the law’s rollout, the execution of the ACA has been anything but smooth.
But for many Americans living outside the nation’s capital, Obamacare has been a lot more than frustrating.
Take, for example, the story of Stephen Blackwood, president of Ralston College in Savannah, Georgia.
Blackwood in an op-ed published Sunday in the Wall Street Journal said his mother, who was diagnosed with carcinoid cancer in 2005, reportedly lost her health insurance because of Obamacare.
And now she allegedly can’t get treatment for her cancer.
“(I)n November, along with millions of other Americans, she lost her health insurance,” Blackwood said. “She’d had a Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan for nearly 20 years. It was expensive, but given that it covered her very expensive treatment, it was a terrific plan. It gave her access to any specialist or surgeon, and to the Sandostatin and other medications that were keeping her alive.”
Sandostatin is a drug that slows tumor growth. It also helps combat fatigue, nausea and gastrointestinal dysfunction, he explained.
But with the implementation of President Obama’s law, Blackwood’s mother lost access to what could be a life-saving drug.
“Her old plan, now considered illegal under the new health law, had been canceled,” Blackwood said.
And that was only the beginning.
“Because the exchange website in her state (Virginia) was not working, she went directly to insurers’ websites and telephoned them, one by one, over dozens of hours,” he said. “As a medical-office manager, she had decades of experience navigating the enormous problems of even our pre-ObamaCare system. But nothing could have prepared her for the bureaucratic morass she now had to traverse.”
His mother eventually tracked down and signed up for a plan that she hoped would fit her needs.
“The enrollment agent said that after she met her deductible, all treatments and medications—including those for her cancer—would be covered at 100%. Because, however, the enrollment agents did not—unbelievable though this may seem—have access to the ‘coverage formularies’ for the plans they were selling, they said the only way to find out in detail what was in the plan was to buy the plan,” he said.
Having exhausted all other options, she reportedly went ahead and signed up for the plan and was approved on Nov. 22.
But in January, she saw her that plan still had not updated on her online Humana account.
So she called to see if her plan was active and was told over and over again that she didn’t have anything to worry about.
Then it happened.
“(O)n Feb. 12, just before going into (yet another) surgery, she was informed by Humana that it would not, in fact, cover her Sandostatin, or other cancer-related medications. The cost of the Sandostatin alone, since Jan. 1, was $14,000, and the company was refusing to pay,” Blackwood said.
“The news was dumbfounding. This is a woman who had an affordable health plan that covered her condition. Our lawmakers weren’t happy with that because . . . they wanted plans that were affordable and covered her condition. So they gave her a new one. It doesn’t cover her condition and it’s completely unaffordable,” he added. “ObamaCare made my mother’s old plan illegal, and it forced her to buy a new plan that would accelerate her disease and death.”
As of this writing, Blackwood’s 58-year-old mother, the same woman who raised him and his nine siblings and helped manage his father’s medical practice for three decades, reportedly awaits an appeal with her insurer.
“Will this injustice be remedied, for her and for millions of others? Or is my mother to die because she can no longer afford the treatment that keeps her alive?” Blackwood asked. “The ‘Affordable’ Care Act is a brutal, Procrustean disaster. In principle, it violates the irreducible particularity of human life, and in practice it will cause many individuals to suffer and die. We can do better, and we must.”
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