Yup, Chris Nygren of San Francisco had his emergency heart surgery -- you know, a heart attack is an emergency -- denied twice by Allstate because he had the temerity to go to the emergency room five hours too early (like, you know, when the actual chest pain was happening):
This past New Year’s Eve, Chris Nygren started to feel chest pains and was rushed to the hospital where he underwent heart surgery. Luckily for Nygren, he had recently purchased a $10,000 supplemental Critical Care Insurance policy from Allstate that he thought would cover his procedure.
“Sitting in the back of your head, you’re going like ‘this is gonna cost an arm and a leg. I just hope I have enough insurance to cover all this,’” he said.
His primary insurance policy left him on the hook for several thousand dollars out of the $167,000 bill he had racked up during his hospital stay. However, his extra Allstate insurance did not come to the rescue.
“The insurance started literally 12:01, January 1…I went in on December 31, 7PM,” he said.
So, there's a lot screwed up about this situation. A numbered list is necessary:
1.) America is the only developed country on Earth where basic health care (and having a heart attack is basic health care -- the NHS won't make you wait two weeks if you're having a heart attack) is so damn monetized that you need two insurance policies just not to go broke.
2.) America is the only developed country on Earth where someone suffering from a heart attack (like, you know, something that is caused by stress) has to worry if he or she is going to lose his or her car (or home) because of a $167,000 medical bill.
3.) America is the only developed country on Earth where individuals may be forced to go months "naked" or uncovered in the form of health insurance. Sometimes shit happens, and that's why civilized countries cover everyone from birth to grave -- for every single second.
So, this was in the media, right? As Wendell Potter suggests, being a squeaky wheel will help change things and, well, you guessed it:
Nygren tried to appeal the denial but was denied not once, but twice.
“It’s hard not to feel like you’re the David and they’re the Goliath,” he said.
That’s when Nygren decided to contact ConsumerWatch. After a ConsumerWatch producer contacted Allstate, Nygren said he was contacted by higher-level representatives from AllState and promised a payout.
Less than two weeks after ConsumerWatch intervened, Nygren received a check in the mail for $10,000.
“Really, a three, four hour window could make a huge difference to somebody,” Nygren said.
Allstate told ConsumerWatch that it was determined to do the right thing as soon as they were made aware of Nygren’s case.
Welcome to America, where your medical coverage is determined by how heroically you can wage a public relations campaign against the corporate bloodsuckers, not by physical need.
In a country with single payer -- or some variant of universal, not-for-profit -- health care (like, you know, Medicare), this would have never happened. Not in Costa Rica, not in France, not in England, not in Wales, not in Scotland, not in Taiwan, not in Japan, not in Spain, not in Sweden, not in Canada...
Maybe it's time to give Medicare to everyone?
UPDATE: Thanks for the REC list! Let's occupy insurance companies...and soon!