Edie Sundby is a Californian suffering from stage-4 gall bladder cancer. With a predicted survival rate of just two-percent on diagnosis, that she is alive at all is something of a miracle. And her survival is a tribute not only to her own resilience and determination, not only to the skill of he doctors at UCSD, Stanford, and in Houston, but also to the insurance company that has so far shelled out over a million dollars for her care, without once questioning or denying a treatment. In the midst of the awful situation in which she finds herself, Edie is very happy with her doctors and insurance.
And, thanks to Obamacare, she can’t keep them:
But in January, United Healthcare sent me a letter announcing that they were pulling out of the individual California market. The company suggested I look to Covered California starting in October.
You would think it would be simple to find a health-exchange plan that allows me, living in San Diego, to continue to see my primary oncologist at Stanford University and my primary care doctors at the University of California, San Diego. Not so. UCSD has agreed to accept only one Covered California plan—a very restrictive Anthem EPO Plan. EPO stands for exclusive provider organization, which means the plan has a small network of doctors and facilities and no out-of-network coverage (as in a preferred-provider organization plan) except for emergencies. Stanford accepts an Anthem PPO plan but it is not available for purchase in San Diego (only Anthem HMO and EPO plans are available in San Diego).
So if I go with a health-exchange plan, I must choose between Stanford and UCSD. Stanford has kept me alive—but UCSD has provided emergency and local treatment support during wretched periods of this disease, and it is where my primary-care doctors are.
As I’ve said before, with the elderly and the very ill the trust relationship between physician, insurer, and patient is crucial, if only for the psychological state of the patient. That Ms. Sundby cannot keep the relationships she values isn’t just wrong, it’s cruel.
And it is very possibly endangering her life:
For a cancer patient, medical coverage is a matter of life and death. Take away people’s ability to control their medical-coverage choices and they may die. I guess that’s a highly effective way to control medical costs. Perhaps that’s the point.
This story appeared in the Wall Street Journal and has set the Internet ablaze since it first appeared last night. One would think the White House would rush to control the damage by finding some way to help Edie, maybe one of Obama’s infamous waivers.
Instead, the official Team Obama response is to attack Edie Sundby by essentially calling her a liar:
— Dan Pfeiffer (@pfeiffer44) November 4, 2013
Pfeiffer is “Senior Adviser to the President for Strategy and Communications.”
Congratulations, Dan. We got the message.
RELATED: More sticker shock for people who’ve had their insurance canceled by Obamacare. Glenn Reynolds meditates on the hubris of technocrats and recommends a book Obama should have read. My blog-buddy ST has also written on this news.
PS: If you’re among those who are losing their coverage thanks to Obamacare and want a direction to aim your anger, remember one thing.