[Please click here for the audio version of this post: THROWBACK THURSDAY]
Let’s throw it back to an earlier Thursday when chemo and radiation were not on my mind—but saving democracy and the Earth were. Let’s throw it back to Loren Nancarrow the troublemaker—the guy who says what he believes even at the risk of sharing a point of view that is unpopular. I do this to spur conversation and not to alienate. If you’ve read my posts in the past or heard me speak, you know I am, at times, distrustful of big business. The profit motive has led corporations to do things that are harmful to people, to the planet and to our system of government. When billions of dollars are at stake, the effects of sugary soft drinks on customers’ health are easy to overlook. When trillions of dollars are at stake, it’s understandable how oil companies see benefits in denying climate change. Don’t get me wrong—I’m a believer in free enterprise and know it’s the reason I’ve grown up in relative comfort. Still, when our government is beholden to big corporations and decisions are made for their benefit, rather than ours, we face great peril. That’s the case too often these days.
My recent experiences have led me to add the health insurance industry to my list of business-bad-guys. For the first time in my life, I’ve seen that the health insurance industry is not our friend. As you can imagine, the bills and the insurance company’s response to them are stacking up. It has taken a very short time to see that insurers try to wear down the insured in order to keep from paying the cost of claims. Some examples: my oncologist is using a combination of radiation and chemotherapy, the “standard of care” for my particular brain cancer. The insurance company began by approving 5 pills instead of the 23 prescribed—forcing us to fight for the remaining 18. Meaning the medicine will not arrive in time to be dispensed as prescribed. That same insurance company denied the emergency MRI that discovered my brain tumor—because it wasn’t pre-approved. Eventually, I believe they’ll approve the necessary treatments. But not without a battle—at a time when what we really need is peace. I mention this as part of my awakening to the frustrations already faced by so many of you.
Health insurance is expensive. It should be there for those who need it. It should help people get better. I’m not sure if the new healthcare act is an improvement but from what I’ve learned so far is consumers in the current insurance system deserve an upgrade from what’s offered. So let’s get out there Americans and fight fight fight! For better food! For cleaner air! For a health insurance system that actually helps us get healthy!
Ah, there. I’ve gotten my political rant out of the way. Now, let’s have some fun. Next time: the real Ron Burgundy—tales of San Diego news in the ’80s. Glasses were bigger, sideburns were longer and pants were rarely worn behind the anchor desk.
I feel your pain. Up here in Eugene, Oregon, i found I have a fracture of my L4 and L5 in my spine. According to obamacare,I had to go to 6 sessions of physical therapy before the Doctor could try alternative medicine. PT didn’t help and we knew that. More money from my insurance company wasted. I recently had shots in my back to alleviate the pain. Big improvement. It is time OUR government wakes up to reality. Keep thinking positive Loren.I like your mindset.
Loren hi it’s Audrey W.
i can so relate to your issue with the insurance company,case in point for 5 yrs i was going to the cancer center having IVIG intervenous immunogloblin treatments ,,my legs were extramly weak.at the time i was wearing braces AFO and using walker,these treatments with i would get 1 x a month infused at the cancer center were helping to control my cipd its an auto immune disease.as i got better the insurance company started complaining and shortly afterwards my treatments were instead of coming from usa manafatures they were importing them from china.i became gravely ill and ended up with not 1 but 2 cases of Encephalitis
is irritation and swelling (inflammation) of the brain, most often due to infections..Both times i almost died.,Point being this lead me to make some hard discions fight to get off the tainted drug they were providing me to cut cost
fight to get put back on the drug that was helping me to walk and live with out pain .
or get help with new nerologist from sharps hospital that would help me get off the treatments all together,sort of take my chances sort of thing..
that later is the one i chose,turns out i did not die i did not live ll crippled up like they swore i would ,what happened is i GOT BETTER and soon the braces came off ,the walker went in the garage and i started walking on my own. took about 3 yrs to get back to the new healthy me.
what i found out was the original dr was in kick back with the drug company and was makin out pretty good. my treatments were 25,000 month sometimes i would do 2 a month .was supposed to be only 5 or 6 treatments total,after 5 yrs of being ordered to take them treatments coming out of china,i finally was allowed to stop,i am alive and yes i have pain most days.the story point is the insurance company risked my life for money,the dr risk my life for money .and no one was listening to me,the patient, till my husband stepped in..things for me are better…..
i pray u get the drugs you need .and i’m so sorry this is happening to you…..
Insurance companies and drug companies have one concern Money
Unfortunately Healthcare and the new Obamacare is not the consumer’s friend. I too know firsthand how difficult it can be. I developed a severe allergic reaction to something I was given during same day surgery and ended up in the ER again less than 24 hours later. Both the ER Dr and my surgeon wanted me to have tests done to find out the cause. My insurance company decided it wasn’t necessary. I fought, fought, fought and finally it was approved 7 months later – 1 month after I no longer was covered by that insurance! Praying for you to get the healthcare that you need Loren!
Dearest Loren from one cancer survivor and thriver to another Keep up the fight it will only make you stronger!!! love, jill w your encintas post office window clerk
Have you seen this? A recent article in Time as to how the medical system got this way to begin with….warning – it may get your blood pumping but its enlightening nonetheless.
Sorry you and your family are having to deal with that right now.
Hang in there Loren. You are loved!!
Awsome blog.if I cannot see u on the news I can read your blog or listen to your cd on garden pests.loved your pod was great .i totally can relate.insurance cos do try to wear you down.
Those actions should be considered criminal. Sorry you’re up against that bull-pucky.
If you need any help with phone calls or being a “paper-clip” for any follow-up, I’d be happy to help.
Their actions should be considered criminal. Keep on them, don’t let them wear you down. If you need any help with calls or following up on a paper-trail. I’d be happy to help.
After reading Loren’s post and everyone’s comments here I feel for all and I agree as well. Health Insurance companies or major medical pay doctors and hospitals…all the while fighting us when need a particular treatment or specialist referral. Like many here referenced, we do not need to constantly call, fax, argue and fight with our health insurance companies when we are hurting and trying to figure it all out. All of us deserve stress free time for recovery when faced with any major health concern.
and to Beverly, you asked in your post about a ‘good’ health insurance company, I will say for me there has been only one(and I’ve had all but Kaiser) and that was Aetna. A few years back I had a Brain Aneurysm and had surgery to fix me. My health insurance was Aetna HMO. I never liked HMO’s but that changed for me when Scripps was included in my plan and no referrals were required. (Scripps docs & facilities here are the best!) Well, in my case, Aetna never questioned anything the doctors ordered or did for me and I love them for that….(can’t believe I just wrote I loved my health insurance company!) that was 5 years ago and maybe things have changed but they are worth looking into. Also Beverly, you can look into Aflac for back-up…I had at the time, and now I work with them here in San Diego. When I had my surgery they paid me cash directly and I was able to cover my deductible and living expenses…Godsend for sure.
Loren, on all your personal and thought provoking writings…I hope you know you have helped open all of our eyes wider on multiple topics and situations…. and have helped us to not only Feel the Love, but to pass it around as well…I would like to thank you for that!! Continued Peace to you and your family.
AGREE 100 %! They did the same to me and over the last 30 years we’ve paid them hundreds of thousands in premiums!
I have never been able to figure out why we allowed our government to limit the number of insurers in each state. If they all could compete across state lines, the market would improve dramatically. Keep on truckin’ Loren. We all pray for the best for you and yours.
Here’s a nice old tune for a nature lover, from Hot Tuna. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eLabUjdqDmQ
I’ve been denied health coverage, across the board, by every insurance company. I was in a bad car accident, as a passenger, and suffered many serious injuries. My (ex) husband, who was the driver, divorced me and cancelled my health insurance the minute he walked out of the courthouse. I thank God every day for Mr Obama and Medicaid. I’d be dead without them. ” The World is a Vampire”!!
Loren: Having just retired from the legal community, my only response to health insurance benefits is …..HIRE an attorney! Get someone on your side. Write to your senator if you think he/she is honest! Check out the patient advocate at your hospital. Most certainly contact the state insurance commissioner. Call the president of your insurance company and insist on getting his/her help in dealing with the nightmare his firm is causing you! File for Social Security Disability! Cash in your whole life insurance policy and tell them you need their benefits NOW because the health insurance denials are going to kill you much sooner than the cancer! And here you were thinking your only problem was having cancer:)
I won’t detail my ugly insurance nightmares here. Suffice to say I’ve been there with them and not just one insurance company either. Sadly, they are big corporations much more interested in their bottom line than the people they “serve”. Many insurance companies categorically deny claims simply so that the client has to fight. This way, they eliminate the first round of folks – the ones with no fight in them. If they keep it up long enough, they eliminate the folks who didn’t have long in the first place. Maybe their families will fight on for them after they’re gone but maybe not = more padding on their bottom line. I sure don’t have the answer but agree with you, Loren. We, the general public, need to get out and be heard and fight fight fight for our rights or the big greedy corporate monsters will win. They will suck the lives right out of us with their health insurance games and they will destroy this earth with things like fracking just to make a profit. Fight on, Loren. Fight on.
My husband just retired from 29 years of service and 9 deployment to Iraq. He is now employed with civilian company that offers health insurance. He was denied for coverage from all of them!! They stated that he was high risk with his diagnosed PTSD, TBI and arthritis in hands. All these diagnoses from Being a NAVY SEAL for most of his life. I was angry, disappointed and then just sad. We felt that all his sacrifices didn’t mean much in the civilian world. Thank god for his military coverage! We would have been S.O.L! Lauren, my husband has always been one of your biggest fan and still is. When I told him what you dealing with he was sadden. He always thought you have a pretty awesome job. He was always jealous of your tan. We pray for your recovery.
I remember you said you have a Scripps doctor. I work at Scripps & want you to know that we have “patient advocates” at Scripps. If you need assistance, don’t hesitate to contact one of them.
Also, I know you said you are a “spiritual” person, but I believe in the power of prayer, and will continue to pray for you & your family.
As a Canadian, I am often left slack-jawed and in utter disbelief at the insurance system here in the U.S. Not that it’s perfect up north, but it is certainly better than here! My question is this…why do insurance companies act like it’s THEIR money? For every one person that needs and uses their health insurance for a serious health issue (such as cancer), there are thousands and thousands (dare I say hundreds of thousands?) of people paying in to it that RARELY or NEVER use the damn thing. They act as if we’re thieves, taking what isn’t rightfully ours. Baffling, frustrating, confusing, and quite simply ridiculous.
I lost my brother to cancer and know the struggles all too well. Luckily, that was one sh** aspect he didn’t have to deal with. Keep up the good fight, Loren, and don’t ever get off that soapbox. Wishes for strength, hope, peace and good health.
Loren, My husband and I have been battling Cancer AND the insurance companies for three years. When my husband was diagnosed with Stage 3-C Colon cancer, 3 years ago, our insurance was $796.00 per month, now it is $1790.45 per MONTH. We are self insured, no one will cover us now, so we have no choice other than to just pay it. When the chemo caused him to have blood clots in his legs, his Oncologist prescribed Lovanox injections, the Insurance company denied the claim and we had to pay out of pocket for them. Financially we are ruined. I will retire when the Coroner picks up my body. I can rattle on and on about the atrocities of the Insurance company and their head in the sand approach, but you get my point!
Thank you so much for this message. More families need to hear this. It is completely unacceptable and disgusting to be treated in such as way as you are experiencing.
As for our older generation, this is what they call the “golden years”. Can you imagine the mess they have to go through to receive adequate care? It’s unimaginable. If they are experiencing even a slight case of memory loss, it can be completely unbearing. Then they approach the “donut hole”. Wait until you get there. That’s where you’ve paid your premium, but have exhausted your annual alottment for medical prescriptions. It happens around mid year. Then each RX is out of pocket. It’s really quit scandalous. It is my pleasure and encouragement to have you be the political voice for so many in our community. Unless you have experienced this insurance mess through a loved one, you have no idea what It’s like. It is more daunting then the college application process. And guess what? We are the sandwich generation.
Lauren, please continue using your voice as a leader for the rest of us.
Loren I read all the comments and loved what “we” all said. As one person said you are the public persona who is liked and respected and can make a difference.
We love you and support you in your recovery and getting the good word out there.
Thank you Loren for all you do for our community of San Diego.
Love the audio versions – you have a great voice…..keep on keeping on! You can do this! Don’t Stop Believin’!
Thank you Loren…keep on truckin’…while my experience in general, with Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Vermont was exceptional there was not a day I did not think about those less fortunate. Perhaps because it was out of a small, community-minded state (long live the Independent Republic of Vermont!) or perhaps just because the policy itself was a good one, there was only one time my oncologist had to argue for the need for another MRI. All the while I thought, a physician’s role should have little to do with arguing with insurance companies. I could see the frustration building as I sat there. Fortunately for me, he won that one.
I have now switched to United Health Care and so far so good, knock on wood ( or my skull). But I know we all live in fear of the bottom falling out beneath our feet at anytime. Cancer is so much more than the disease as it is also about the havoc, financial, emotional and spiritual, it wreaks on those afflicted and those who are caring for us.
And we’re supposed to be worrying about government death panels? Insurance companies make life and death decisions hundreds of times a day, based on their bottom line.
Blue Shield denied my chemo for two months during that time I spent hours on the phone everyday trying to get to the bottom of the problem. I have now been on chemo for 5 months with quite a few setbacks. Blue Shield denies EVERYTHING! Then I spend hours on the phone. So frustrating when I am felling so crappy on top of it!
We too are with Blue Shield, and I agree with you, they deny so many things for Cancer…..
Please keep up the fights…..your personal one & all the political ones – especially health care revamping. you need the insurance company’s partnership right now……the best healing comes with quick decisions & actions. It’s that simple!
Yeah, I worked for Geico in the late 80’s they were real nice, real nice, reverse racism, lies to customers, cheats, let me go on and on, i now have them for car ins, so do i get any special treatment? I left on good terms as the Credit Union branch Manager, they are asswipes to the extreme, MESSMER ARE YOU STILL ALIVE, “WE BETTER HIRE THE BLACK GIRL OR HAVE A LAWSUIT ON OUR HANDS” DIRECT QUOTE FROM THAT WIENIE.
You summed that up quite well. I only wish you didn’t have to deal with the ridiculous insurance claims and battles. I hope with all my heart the ACA will help ease this burden. Looking forward to the next podcast.
So sorry to hear about your fight with the insurance company, as if one fight isn’t difficult enough, you have to also fight for your rightful coverage. It is so ridiculous! I fight with them everyday, not just at Dr. Monahan’s but I also do freelance insurance billing & collection work for another office. Some of the stories I could tell you, it’s like a nightmare roller coaster, and you just want to get off the ride. Unfortunately they don’t train the people well who are helping you, which adds to the aggravation when they transfer you seven times and you end up where you started an hour later……oh, don’t get me started! Be tough. We are thinking of you.
Wow! Couldn’t have said it better than that if I tried.
I have had the same frustration but with the workers comp system. They let me sit for a year and a half with a crushed spinal cord, denying surgery 3 times, even after 3 doctors said it was necessary. They said it wasn’t. So now after successful surgery I’m better but with permanent nerve damage in my arms & hands. But hey, they made their point …. Which was …. They and all the other insurance companies hold your life hostage in their hands and you don’t get to have peace while you recover, you have to fight. Some crappy system if you ask me!
My Mother has gone threw the same Cancer and I have to say, my parents always paid for their own insurance. no company insurance. The bill I got after all her surgery, meds and etc. We got a bill for $9.00………………The Cancer policy with Aflac is super.Mom just turned 90 and she is doing everything, golf etc. Keep the faith Loren and you will do the same. Lots of prayers for you.
There is a show on serius radio the doctor’s show channel 81 every Tue that has guys who are specialists in dealing with insurance companies and you can call in and they help you. Might be worth a try. Good luck.
Loren……..I’m beginning to think it’s a right of passage for all cancer patients to have to fight with our insurance companies. Every time I have to make a call, my stress level goes crazy and I say, “I’m doing my job which is to get healthy, so please just do your job. In an attempt to do YOUR job, it’s interfering with MY job.” We can’t allow them or anyone to wear us down. But I know you already know that. Take good care!
Here’s a name to know. Dave Jones. He’s our California Insurance Commissioner. It’s always good to know the name and send him copies. His name is sometimes enough but the Department of Insurance is there to help the insured. When sending in duplicate information cc: Mr. Dave Jones, California Insurance Commissioner. I’ve had situations cleared up magically when using the Dept. of Insurance.
Blue Shield has always stepped up for me, including emergency surgery, MRI’s, all kinds of tests and procedures… So sorry you are enduring insult with your injury, and I pray your insurance company– whom you might have to call out by name– will also step up.
Praying for you.
Dear Loren. Please get on your soapbox and preach loud and clear until all H___ breaks loose, Maybe some day, somehow, the medical insurance companies will realize that most of us are honest people and just want to get better and our doctors are trying to help us do that with medicines and treatments. There are only a few out there that are trying to stick it to the insuranace companies, thereby makeing the honerable ones suffer more because of their antics. Someone has to get the insurance companies to acknowledge the fact that terminally ill patients DO NOT NEED THEIR CRAP> They are trying to survive the best way they can. Keep up the preaching Loren, maybe someone will hear you and do something about it.
After reading everybody’s posts, I have to admit my story is different. I had and still do have Kaiser when I had cancer 13 years ago. Too long a story to tell here but the CT scan and ultrasound that discovered my tumor were all part of my coverage. Had 4 rounds of chemo, surgery, doctors, surgeons oncologist, EVERYTHING was part of my coverage and all I paid was my co-pays for doctor visits, chemo and hospital stay. Nobody asked for a penny more, the CT scan was ordered by my doctor, no problem. Not one problem, ever, and here I am 13 years later cancer-free. Kaiser saved my life and there was not even a waiting period after I joined. Within 3-4 months of paying my first premium, I had my surgery, was diagnosed and began chemo. I owe them my life and have absolutely nothing bad to say about them.
I am so sorry you and your wife have to go through this with the insurance companies.
My husband and I went through the same thing. You have to advocate for your own health care. No one else will/can do it for you. I threatened to sue every one of them at Secure Horizon when it took them over 4 months to approve my husbands defibrillator, they were waiting for him to have a heart attack and die. After my threats, the cardiologist phone us and told us they have an approval. My husband died 4 years ago, but I battled the insurance company every 3 months or so for his medications. I hope it gets better for your wife, she will need to muster all her strength, she can’t be nice all the time to these people. Rest as much as you can, a lot of us are pulling for you and your family. It will be a hard battle but we will be with you all the way. I wish you well!
One more thing I forgot to tell you, KEEP YOUR ORIGINAL COPIES and photocopy everything! The insurance company will tell you they did NOT receive what you just sent them. Even faxed receipts tends to get lost in their system so make sure your wife has folders for everything. It is imperative to be very good with your filing system, Have a separate folder for medications, doctor visits etc. It will be so much easier when you have filed everything in their proper folder, it saves wear and tear on your nerves. Please tell your wife to have a spine made of stainless steel, she is going to need it. My best to you both and your family.
Man Loren that was a pretty calm rant. When this whole health care business started I thought it meant reasonable insurance rates, reasonable medical costs, and no more run arounds. HA!! Just pass the bill and we’ll find out what’s in it later. Once more we bend over and grab our ankles! Loren, you and Susie keep track of EVERYTHING ! Date paid, how much for what to whom. Doctor’s office, insurance will all give you the run around. No one informs you of the process, costs of meds, what is isn’t covered. Chemo is considered a pharmacidual so you pay up front. And the cost is unrealistic, as you have discovered. Yep, your right insurance gives you the run around until you either take a dirt nap or give up. Don’t do it! I don’t know your sweet wife, but she needs to take this over and she becomes the witch on her jet broom. You, dear friend need to save your strength for the real battle. Think BLUE, watch the waves bring you peace.
Hugs to you
As a mother whose son had a brain tumor I fought for everything for his health care. This started in 1985 until 2009. Being pros give and “pushy” is the only way get what you deserve. Keep on keeping on and God bless you and your loved ones.
I feel you Loren! My heart disease and cancer drained my bank account, and forced me into bankruptcy, then on to SS disability. Though I am alive, and grateful, I had to start life over at the age of 50. I fear I will never catch up to my previous means of comfort, but at least I have the comfort of knowing I won’t die of cancer tomorrow!
Unfortunately this peace of mind comes with a price…and the insurance companies and bureaucracy will make sure you pay for it. This is why I am for some serious changes in the healthcare and insurance business! We are all praying that you have the strength and energy to fight your way out of this nightmare. God Spede ♥
Yes, the system is corrupt and ultra expensive. I am so with you on this one. There was an excellent special edition of Time magazine a month or so ago about just this, “Bitter Pill – Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us:” http://healthland.time.com/2013/02/20/bitter-pill-why-medical-bills-are-killing-us/.
Even the non-profit hospitals are making a fortune. My recent 11 day stay at a hospital for brain surgery and complications was over $300,000. Insurance paid them $95,000. Thankfully, that was in-network. If I was uninsured I would have had to pay the full $300K. The surgeons and one anaesthesiologist were not in-network, however. They basically charge whatever they want. My insurance paid the 2 surgeons $26,000, but they are coming after me for an additional $24,000. That is for one day’s work. Yes, they were excellent, but still..what a payday!
Sad but true, and the more people who hear this, and believe this is what happens, the better since health insurance is driven by denying expensive testing and treatments. I got the pleasure of a sudden extremely large charge on my credit card for a prescription refill that someone decided was no longer fully covered, and they forgot to notify me. Costco would have been less expensive. Yet this patch keeps me from having to use narcotic painkillers. My doctor was shocked, he was prepared to have the whole thing denied, and had filled out the corresponding paperwork to petition for permission to prescribe it. No need, I was allowed to incur sudden debt.
Good topic and written words Loren…Keep them coming…
Loren, I am also so sorry you are having to fight with the insurance co.’s when you and your family should be trying, peacefullyy, to deal with your diagnosis and treatment. I’ve been a nurse/RN for 34yrs and worked for a # of healthcare systems. Things were better back when, but now they are denying necessary treatments left and right. And don’t even get me going off abour Rx’s/meds; I have Lupus and don’t know how many times I have run out due to waiting for approval, thereby decreasing a therapeutic blood level and increased symptoms.
On an aside, I am a subject in a Lupus research study, and due to the fact that I also have Sjogren’s (another autoimmune disease) I don’t produce enough saliva. The doc at the study site gave me a sample of Numoisyn and an Rx. It comes in lozenges and liquids. The point is, chemo causes the same problem, so this might be helpful to you. Another thing is: Biotene; comes in gum, mouthwash and toothpaste – available OTC, and much cheaper at Costco, A lot of people don’t know that, even if you aren’t a Costco member, you can get your, and your pets, meds there, and their cost is usually less than your copay on insurance and WAY cheaper that at the Vet’s.
Take care my Friend! I think of you and your family everyday and wish you comfort and peace. Btw, did you ever get the Bernie Seigal book – Love, Medicine, and Miracles. It will be very uplifting to you and your family. Another thing that would be very good for you and your immune system and healing is regular massages.
Love you! Jeanie
I wonder if there is any insurance company that puts their customers well being ahead of their profits and those of their shareholders. There surely has to be a better way than relying on insurance companies.for our health care. There has been so much talk about the cost of health care in our country and not enough talk about the insurance companies that control our health care.
It is tragic that you have had to experience the illness that you have-there are lots of prayers from our household. I do believe that out of tragedy, some good comes. You, as a recognized and respected newscaster, just might be able to get some of the illogical decisions made by insurance companies brought to light and possibly be instrumental in stopping the insanity. How dare they question a physician’s directive-especially with something as serious as cancer! Hang in there and keep on fighting the burocracy. Most of us have had the “pleasure” of dealing with the mental midgets that you are now discovering—we have your back!!
It is terrible. They are certainly not like an Allstate commercial . My insurance goes up every year. I now have a super high deductible and still pay $450.00 A month. I take one preventive medicine and I am charged an extra 100.00 for that. Fight fight fight . If anyone has a good insurance company ..please tell us. In the mean time rant and rave until you get the care you need.
yep, the bills and chasing the insurance company and tracking down where the deductables were spent and so on and so forth. Have spent the past 19 months going through this with my hubby. You spend so much energy trying to get the finances straightened around you have no energy to spend feeling better. I am cheering you on in your post, spread the word, speak from your soapbox, I will be there applauding you and praying that it all gets sorted out. I am so sorry you have discovered this absolutely ridiculous system when you really need to be resting and being restored. DAF