Thursday, April 14, 2011

Fight the good fight against unfair health insurance policies.

There is a man in my church who has been through many trials and tribulations with regards to his health.  His name is Tony Luparello.  Through the grace of God and his own innate toughness, he's been a true survivor throughout.

Now he is facing another trial, suffering from an affliction diagnosed as "acute peripheral arterial insufficiency".  To put it in very simple layman's terms, he has wounds in his foot that won't heal.

If this condition continues untreated, he will most likely lose his foot.

There is good news.  "Hyperbaric oxygen therapy".  This is a treatment that can save Tony's foot.

The American College of Hyperbaric Medicine approves HBOT (hyperbaric oxygen therapy) as an effective treatment for acute peripheral arterial insufficiency.

Insurance providers AETNA, Humana/Choicecare, Kaiser PermanenteCIGNA, even Medicare and Medicaid agree.

More bad news:  Tony has BlueCross/BlueShield of North Carolina.  And they've denied his request for this treatment.

BCBSNC is considered a "not-for-profit" company.  Not that you can tell by their financial statements.  BCBSNC's consolidated net income rose by over $60 million last year, with total revenue at $5.2 billion.

Yet their medical spending was roughly comparable to the year before.

(If you think I'm getting any of this information from a biased source, well, I am.  It's BlueCross/BlueShield's own press release.)

A few more fun facts.  Last year, BCBSNC CEO Brad Wilson made $1.87 million, a major paycut from what his predecessor, Bob Greczyn, made in 2009:  $4.08 million.  (Source.)

Now, let's do a little comparison.  According to the Rubicon Foundation, the average cost for hyperbaric oxygen therapy is $4,158.83 on average.  However, for wound care (such as the wounds in Tony's foot), the average is only $2,623.00.

This isn't per session...This is for the entire treatment.

Let's be generous and round-up, say that this treatment for Tony would cost $5,000.00.  That would cut into BCBSNC's total revenue by 0.0001%, and their net consolidated profits by a whopping 0.08%.

Or, Brad Wilson could be generous and donate 1/374th of his salary to cover it.  Less than what he earns in a day.

Even if the treatment cost $10,000, $20,000, or higher...How much is it worth to save a man's foot?  To ensure that he'll be able to walk with pride down the aisle at his kid's wedding, to never have to sit out on a game of touch football in the backyard?  Tony teaches Children's Church to elementary school kids, and they depend on him as a mentor and friend.  Those kids are too young to learn that someone they look up to and care about can be allowed to hurt and suffer for the sake of a bottom line.

Here's where we get to the good news.  You can help, and it won't cost you anything.  All you have to do is request to be added to the Facebook group, Petition for BCBS to change unfair medical policy (may have to log-in to see the page).  By joining, you will add your name to a petition of people who are all showing their support for Tony...and showing BlueCross/BlueShield that this thing is getting a lot of recognition, and it will be in their best financial interest to grant Tony's request for treatment.

If enough people find out about what BCBSNC is up to, it might affect their bottom line.

And we all know they don't want that.

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