“I assumed my insurer would be there to pay for my treatments. After all, what else was I paying my premiums for? But on the day I was supposed to start treatment, I found out that my care wouldn’t be covered.”
I am a retired firefighter who was diagnosed with Stage 3 Esophageal Cancer in 2017. After my diagnosis, my oncologist recommended that I receive treatment right away to stop the cancer from spreading and save my life.
My doctors recommended I receive proton therapy because it would concentrate the radiation to the precise cells that need to be killed without causing damage to nearby organs.
I assumed my insurer would be there to pay for my treatments. After all, what else was I paying my premiums for? But on the day I was supposed to start treatment, I found out that my care wouldn’t be covered. While Medicare approved payment for 80 percent of the treatment, my private insurer refused to pay the remaining 20 percent.
I appealed to my insurer, but they wouldn’t budget. Not wanting to delay treatment, I decided to write a check that day to cover that 20 percent and get started.
A year later, I was cancer free. I am so thankful to my wonderful team of doctors and nurses who took such great care of me and were able to make sure I got the care I needed. I would not have made it through such a difficult time without their support and the support of my family and friends.
I am sure there are many stories similar to mine that need to be told. That’s why I’m urging others to become advocates for proton therapy, so we can make sure no one has to face an unfair insurance denial.