Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Battling cancer AND your insurance company, NY Times cancer feature

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More from the New York Times series on cancer this past weekend:

In another article in the feature, Gordon Hendrickson talks about his battle with pancreatic cancer ... and his health insurance company.

Upon his diagnosis, Hendrickson received relatively good news, that his pancreatic cancer was operable and that such an operation would increase his survival greatly. However, he also received bad news. His insurance company said they would only pay for the surgery, the highly-complex Whipple procedure, if he went to one of five surgeons in his hometown.

Hendrickson wanted to have the surgery performed at M.D. Anderson in Houston, as the surgeons there had much more experience with Whipples than those in his hometown.

After bringing his evidence to a state review board, namely that the five surgeons that his plan had recommended had collectively only performed a total of five Whipples in their whole careers, Hendrickson won the case and his healthcare plan covered his surgery in Houston.

Hendrickson's story is yet another example of how patients must be their own best advocates in our challenging healthcare system.

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