Monday, March 8, 2010

More insidious than stealing money, Insurance Companies Steal our Time

Luna practices taking her shoes off before her Synagis injection.

Last week was truly one of the most difficult of my life. Many of you (and I cannot thank enough those who sent emails, tweets and comments of support, you literally carried me through) followed along as I tried in vein to get Luna her last Synagis shot of the season.

The week came to a triumphant end on Friday when I received a phone call from a woman at WellPoint, the parent company of Anthem, and center of loads of negative media attention over the last several weeks; as the CEO was called to testify before congress to defend her nearly 10 million dollar a year salary (a mix of salary and stock options, this number does not include her private jet usage another other perks). WellPoint and subsequently Anthem, earn their profits through the percentage of their earnings that don’t go to healthcare; paying doctors or for medicines and treatments. In other words, it doesn’t take much to connect the dots on why the insurance companies would have virtually no incentive to pay for the costly Synagis treatments. And it is this very jump in profits, during the deepest recession in 80 years, that has caught the eye of Congress.

The WellPoint representative called to say she was following up to my letters I had sent earlier in the week. (I had sent a letter along with my blog posts to both Anthem and Precision RX customer service.)

And apparently I caught the attention of the CEO of Anthem.

But back to WellPoint for a moment. The woman who called was incredibly kind. She said that she was following-up to make sure the Synagis was shipped to Luna’s pediatrician. I told her, "Yes, I had received a phone call from our doctor's this morning confirming delivery".

She went on to say they she was reading my blog, and she and her colleagues at WellPoint, along with her colleagues at Anthem were cheering Luna on.

I was touched. Really. I almost burst out into tears.

But then she went on to say that: lot's of people complain, but I had written in such a compelling way that I wasn't pointing fingers, or ranting, I had told a story about a little girl who was not getting her medicines.

I was honestly moved by our conversation and flattered by her kind words...but I still felt a sour taste bubble-up in the back of my throat. I happen to write for a profession. And I offer social media and publicist services to those in the home and garden industry. And to date I have successfully reversed nearly $8,000 in denied claims through the power of twitter.

But what about those who don't write, tweet and blog for a living? I am, in a sense, an expert complainer. And even I sometimes don't communicate the best I can-simply because I am exhausted in trying to keep up with this thing we’ll simply-call-the-insurance-madness, ON TOP of running my business, along know...that other duty that still no one has given any real value to; that of course being a mother.

So, while I appreciate the kind words, is this really the best we can do?

Perhaps my biggest complaint of all is the time that Anthem steals from me. Last week I put at least 80% of my work time into what many of us call The Synagis Nightmare. Time that is not just taken from me, but since I represent architects, designers and photographers, we can justifiably say that Anthem stole their time as well. And time is money. If I'm not out pitching, writing, blogging and tweeting for my clients; it's only diminishing my efforts to land them more clients.

Since posting on the topic; dozens of mothers and fathers have emailed or stopped me to say their Synagis has been discontinued for their preemie, heart baby, or child with cystic fibrosis.

Which once again begs the question: why do the makers of these powerful and lifesaving drugs bother to tease us? If no one can afford them, and the insurance companies have no incentives at all to pay for them; then what is the point?

And back to Luna's Synagis shot. It dropped from $2791.64 to $1825.13, still no one has been able to tell me why. Just a week ago, before I blogged about the topic, the shot would have cost our family nearly $1000 more.


ClarityK (Sarah) said...

Am I reading that right - they condescend to give you the NEEDED medicine because they think you complain nicely?
Wow, I'm speechless - and people are concerned that our elected government might get too involved in healthcare decisions? THIS is not decision made for the best medical reasons, is it?
I don't see how we'll ever have affordable healthcare for all when we have insurance companies who have to make a profit out of us running things.

Dallas Jenkins said...

Yeah, those evil insurance companies who have a smaller profit margin than nearly any other industry out there...those evil insurance companies who, because of the billions of dollars they've risked and invested, allow us to afford treatment that otherwise would be impossible to afford because of how much it costs to develop.

Laurie said...

Isn't this telling, that the written word has the power to change lives, policies, history.

When one faces the extraordinary task of dealing with massive insurance bureaucracy, it makes the average human being feel so helpless in taking care of our loved ones needs. And maybe, just maybe we feel that we have reached an insurance person on the other end of the phone that is able to push pass the bureaucracy and make it possible that we get the medical services we need. But the reality is once the phone call is over with, what power does that person really have if they too face the same internal bureaucratic mess within their insurance organization to enact change.

This is where the written word makes a difference. Your blog, your twitter messages touches our hearts. It is a powerful testimony of love and a parents struggle to make sure their little girl receives the best medical care she deserves.

Having only met you in person in February at the Brizo sponsored Jason Wu Fashion show, I was very impressed meeting you and learning about your successful business, I had no idea of your personal challenges. I applaud your strength and efforts bringing this to the public eye. Please keep writing.