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In case anyone thought that Aetna was some sort of saint when it paid PoopStrong's bills following a massive Twitter campaign -- after mocking him for not reading his policy like an auto insurance policy -- think again.

Aetna's entire existence and daily operational behavior is immoral.
Get ready to be ashamed for your country, and massively pissed at Aetna.

This desperate woman had to give up her insurance while sick with cancer because Aetna thinks the ill and sick should be punished with higher bills, not treated with the love and compassion necessary to become well again. Read her words:

Leslie Elder was always a fighter. But in a message to a friend in the waning days of her life, she seemed exhausted.

The note, written at a time of spiritual darkness, suggested defeat after a decades-long struggle for medical coverage.

"I honestly don't know how much more I can endure," Elder wrote earlier this year in a Facebook message to her friend Liz Jacobs. "I am fighting for (Medicaid) and disability. I can't work I sit in bed I cry a lot. I am still fighting for healthcare and still fighting foreclosure."

"I am so upset but perhaps it was not meant to be. I don't know anything anymore," said Elder, who died in July at age 63 without insurance coverage.

Imagine struggling with the big-profit medical insurance bureaucracy while feeling like this:
As she typed the note, Elder could scarcely breathe. Her lungs had filled with fluid over several months; her respiratory system was shutting down. After visits to the emergency room and several free clinics, Elder was finally diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma.
So, the Aetna connection? Well, those bastards raised her rates over and over again until she could no longer afford to pay. Aetna did not want to care for this woman. Aetna's concern was its shareholder profits, not the life of a human being. Corporations are people, my friends?
By then, the Elders had been on a roller coaster, going from what they describe as the best medical coverage to having none. In between came skyrocketing insurance premiums, high deductibles, and stacks of unpaid medical bills following each cancer diagnosis.

At a certain point, feeling like her pre-existing conditions were to blame for her soaring and unaffordable insurance rates, Elder gave up on coverage.

Her insurance company Aetna later said Elder's previous cancer diagnoses were not the culprit for the rate increases.

Although the company did not cite a specific reason for the increased rate, Cynthia Michener, an Aetna spokeswoman said: "There can be other contributing factors to rate increases for small business policies, including, for example, the aggregate cost of the entire pool of small business policies in the state."

Well, OK, Aetna? Note the highlighting of "there can be other contributing factors" -- Aetna is using slimy PR-style language that Wendell Potter has warned us about for years to say: yes, your cancer caused your rates to rise, but maybe other factors (such as our drive to profit) caused them to increase as well.

The cold hearted brutality of Aetna and the big-profit medical insurance bureaucracy literally drove this woman into the ground and broke her soul. No, that's not hyperbole:

"When she was interviewed for CNN originally, it was one of the most hopeful periods of her years-long struggle," said Donna Smith, Elder's friend, an advocate and community organizer with National Nurses United. "Most recently, as her health grew even worse and she faced the loss of her home and the final parts of her savings, Leslie just yearned for dignity and some sort of peace that never seemed to come."
Shame, shame, shame:
And nearly three years later, as her death approached, the pendulum had swung decidedly toward fear.

"And me, Ms. Healthcare CNN interview tough person now a scared little girl who after beating cancer 4x now sits in bed with oxygen and breathing treatments," Elder wrote to Jacobs.

"I was always able to stand up to whatever hit me. I'm not so sure about things anymore and maybe not so tough. I am scared."

Of course, Aetna CEO (@mtbert) would probably just say, like he did to PoopStrong, that this woman should accept that her insurance rates may have to rise -- you know, like auto insurance.

'Medicare for all' is not just good policy, it's a moral imperative.

This is what happens when people aren't covered for life -- they fall through the cracks, and they suffer horribly during the fall.

5:03 PM PT: Thanks for recommending this diary, folks -- sorry that I was busy with work today and not able to respond to as many comments as I would have liked. Let's make this diary go viral!

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