It was only a matter of time before the honeymoon between me and my insurance company ended. I mean, I know how much love I felt from them when they approved my genetic testing (other friends I know with cancer had theirs denied), but I could tell my insurance was starting to feel differently when they approved just 3 weeks of post-mastectomy radiation instead of the 6 my radiation oncologist asked for. But it wasn’t until they denied me a PET scan that I knew our relationship had really soured.
Here’s what happened. My oncologist, who you all know by now is both awesome and a genius, submitted a request for my insurance to cover a PET scan to see how much cancer is left after all the treatments I have had this year, so we can figure out what to do next. The idea was, if there isn’t much cancer left, or if by some miracle the scan was unable to find any evidence of cancer, then we keep me on the anastrozole and just watch and wait for it to come back. (Stage IV is like roaches. It always comes back.) if, on the other hand, there were big ass tumors, then we’d want to do some more chemo. Treatment decisions being based on evidence, seems reasonable, yes?
Not according to my insurance. They denied the scan. Their letter didn’t say why, just denied it. My oncologist has now submitted an appeal, but we had to cancel the scan scheduled for today, because who the fuck knows when it will get approved, if ever.
Here is the thing. This sort of crap happens ALL THE TIME. And the reason it does is because insurance is a for-profit industry. It exists solely to make money. My care costs them money. A lot of money. So, they keep those costs down by denying me care. It’s as simple and completely amoral as that.
Now, maybe you believe that insurance companies have a right to make a profit. Let’s leave off for a minute that they are companies, and they shouldn’t have rights because they aren’t people, they’re companies. Instead, let’s talk about how their right to make a profit compares to my right to have life-sustaining health care. When these two rights come into conflict, whose right should win? The corporation’s right to money, or my right to life?
Let me also say this. A lot of people oppose a single-payer, government-insured health care system because they fear government bureaucrats denying them needed medical procedures. And yeah, government can be seriously bureaucratic. But, my insurance company is filled with bureaucrats denying me a needed medical procedure. It takes months to get appointments with specialists, just like it does in a socialist country’s health care system. How is the system we have any better than our worst fears about a government-run system?
Until we design a health care system that isn’t built around insurance company profits dictating how my doctor practices medicine, we will continue to have shit like this happen. It’s wrong, and it has to stop.