Last month I was diagnosed with melanoma inside my right eye. I had an eye problem, so I immediately went to my eye doctor. He noticed what he called “burns” in my eye, and immediately sent me to an eye doctor.
The eye doctor found a “massive melanoma” in my right eye. Dr. Google told my wife that the survival rate for large eye melanoma is less than 50% at five years. He fell. I was referred to an ocular oncologist and went in the next day. He diagnosed the lung cancer as “small” – which is a function of the size, and said that I have a much better chance of survival than we thought.
The recommended treatment was a radiation barrier that was sewn into the eye. Everyone moved quickly. Two weeks after my diagnosis I was in the operating room. Things had to be done quickly because every day the risk of metastasis increases, and when it happens the negative consequences are more.
But, the fact that insurance companies are involved increases my risk of having a negative outcome.
Some developed countries struggle to understand our health care system in the US Here, we thought it would be best to put a for-profit organization – health insurance – between us and our medical care. As you might expect, this creates a lot of confusion for insurance companies. They make money by collecting payments from you, and then denying you support.
Here are two things that have happened in the past that have threatened my health. When my melanoma was diagnosed, all the doctors said “Everything will be covered.” Soon I received letters from the insurance company confirming the coverage. (Incidentally, this is the largest health insurance company in the US)
My treatment involved putting a block in my eye, and then removing it after a week. The installation was completed without any problems. A day before the discharge, the hospital called and said “Insurance did not approve the discharge.” I said, “Uh, what?”
So, we called the insurance company. They told us that they need three weeks to approve this. The doctors said I had to sign a consent form to proceed with the surgery, showing that I was financially responsible if the insurance didn’t pay. The insurance company told me that when we signed the document, they would not pay because I said I would.
The doctor told me that “that source must come out as soon as possible, because it will destroy your vision if it is left too long.” And, this was a nuclear powered source in my eyes that prevented me from being with other people. So, I had no choice but to sign. And, before the surgery – like literally an hour before we were in the waiting room – the insurance denied the surgery to remove it. If that sounds crazy, it is. Therefore, we must fight against them. The only other stress in this whole thing.
The second thing. My oncologist said the most important thing now is to check if the cancer has spread. This is the main thing if I have good or bad results. He ordered a full body PET scan. The insurer refused. They said “this melanoma was in his eyes. We don’t feel the need to check his whole body.” Again, crazy.
In fact, the woman who was examining me for surgery to remove the pen was from Canada. He said “I don’t understand this system. I pay my insurance every month, but I have to pay deductibles and copays?
I hate this system with a burning passion. And I’m lucky. At least I have insurance. It’s hard to imagine an uninsured person going through this.
I have lived in Germany, Scotland, and the Netherlands. I have had direct experience with international healthcare in these countries. What we have in the US is disgusting.