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Michelle Gottlieb Psy.D., MFT, LPCC
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A Travesty

January 2012

Cancer is a horrible disease. It is even more horrible when you have to struggle with finances and insurance issues to get the treatment that you need. Right now I have two special people in my life going through this struggle.

My mother is fighting two types of cancer; one is a particularly aggressive type of lymphoma. She started her chemotherapy treatment this week. When she walked into the treatment room, she was told that her co-pay per treatment will be over a $1000! She will have to have six to eight rounds of chemo. She had already picked up a prescription that was over a $100. The day after her chemo she had to go back to get a shot that was over $500! She will need to get this shot after every round of chemo. My mother is, as they say, on a fixed income. Her treatment will cost her over $10, 000! If she does not get the treatment, she has only 4-5 months to live. That doesn’t really give her much of a choice, does it?

I have a very dear friend, Scott Boliver. I have known Scott since high school. He is now a psychologist who shares office space with me. He and his family are close friends with my family. Scott is also battling two forms of cancer. One is an extremely rare sarcoma. He has been working with St. Jude and UCLA; however, they have done all that they can. They are now recommending that he get a second opinion at a cancer hospital that specializes in his cancer.

When Scott went through all of the paperwork to get his second opinion, the St. Jude medical director denied the second opinion due to lack of medical necessity! St. Jude does not have the capability to treat him. If he does not get treatment, he will die! How is that lack of medical necessity? St. Jude says that they are now working with his insurance company to get him his treatment and that it is now the insurance company that is stopping treatment, but the two entities are just going in circles blaming each other. In the meantime, Scott is not getting the treatment that he so desperately needs!

Cancer is a horrible, scary disease. Why do insurance companies make it even harder and scarier? If I were truly cynical, I would say it is because it is cheaper for insurance companies to have these people die than provide treatment. I hope that this column can get forwarded to people who can make decisions for not only my mom and Scott, but to everyone else that are not only fighting cancer but their own insurance companies. Please, insurance companies, prove me wrong! Help people fighting these diseases! Please help my mom get treatment. Please help Scott to live! I do not think we are asking too much!

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