An Arizona graduate student who maxed out his health coverage battling advanced colon cancer has gotten the CEO of his health insurance company to agree to cover "every last penny" of his medical bills, the Arizona Republic reported.
Arijit Guha, who's working on a doctorate at Arizona State University, returned from a trip to India last year feeling ill. One month later, the 30-year-old was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer. According to the Republic, his medical bills from two surgeries, chemotherapy and other treatments earlier this year surpassed the $300,000 lifetime cap allowed by his Aetna student health insurance plan.
ABC News reported that although the Affordable Care Act eliminated such caps, the new requirements have not yet gone into effect for student plans.
Facing potential bankruptcy, Guha started a fundraising drive to help cover his costs through his website, poopstrong.org -- a takeoff on Lance Armstrong's Livestrong -- and last week started engaging both Aetna and its CEO Mark Bertolini on Twitter.
"True or False?: I am in this situation because your company offers a crappy product," Guha tweeted at one point.
"False," Bertolini replied. "Why do you think the premium was so low? Do u look at your policy limits when u buy other insurance (auto)?"
The pair continued back and forth on the microblogging site until the next day, when Guha tweeted that Aetna "just agreed to cover the full extent of my bills. Every last penny. Thanks, @mtbert, for listening."
"The system is broken, and I am committed to fixing it," Bertolini said in one of his final tweets Friday evening. "I am glad we connected today and got this issue solved. I appreciate the dialogue no matter how pointed. I've got it and own it!"
According to ABC News, Guha had raised $120,000 in T-shirt sales through Poop Strong. Now that Aetna has agreed to cover his costs, Guha said he will donate all of the money he raised to cancer charities in Arizona.
"I am incredibly pleased and in shell shock and trying to figure out what just happened. It's a huge relief," Guha told ABC.