Stage 4 cancer survivor may die due to Obamacare taking away her coverage

Sunday, November 17, 2013 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: Obamacare, cancer survivor, health insurance coverage

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(NaturalNews) The news is awash with mostly nonspecific reports about the millions of hardworking Americans who are expected to lose their health insurance coverage as a result of Obamacare. But reports about specific individuals and how losing coverage will affect them personally are also starting to trickle in, including the sobering story of Edie Littlefield Sundby, a stage 4 gallbladder cancer survivor whose world-class health insurance plan, which is currently keeping her alive, is about to hit the Obamacare chopping block.

For the past seven years, Sundby has been receiving specialized treatments for her cancer through the University of California, San Diego, (UCSD) Moores Cancer Center, the Stanford University Cancer Institute and the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Sundby's PPO insurance policy through United Healthcare has allowed her to access a customized mix of doctors and specialists from each of these renowned facilities, an arrangement that since 2007 has cumulatively cost somewhere in the vicinity of $1.2 million, but that has reportedly saved Sundby's life.

But all that is about to change, as Sundby's longstanding coverage will no longer be valid under Obamacare. Earlier this year, Sundby received a letter in the mail from United Healthcare notifying her that her plan would be terminated on December 31 and urging her to shop on the Obamacare insurance exchange for replacement coverage. Since she lives in California, Sundby was instructed to take a look at Covered California, the state-run insurance exchange website offering "affordable" healthcare coverage to Californians.

Obamacare exchanges turn up bare, leaving Sundby with no viable coverage options

Having no other choice, Sundby followed these instructions but quickly learned that no plan comparable to her existing one even exists on the Obamacare exchange. Only one plan available on the exchange, a highly restrictive exclusive provider organization (EPO) plan offered by Anthem, is even accepted by UCSD, which has been providing emergency and local treatment support for Sundby. Stanford, on the other hand, only accepts an Anthem PPO plan, which is not even offered in San Diego, where Sundby lives.

So Sundby's only real option, in other words, at least as far as the health exchange route is concerned, is to purchase the Anthem EPO plan and have access to limited care at UCSD, but not at Stanford. There simply is not a plan available in which Sundby can continue receiving treatments from both UCSD and Stanford, which has been an essential component of her recovery.

"What happened to the president's promise, 'You can keep your health plan'? Or to the promise that 'You can keep your doctor'?" writes Sundby in a recent Wall Street Journal editorial. "Thanks to the law, I have been forced to give up a world-class health plan. The exchange would force me to give up a world-class physician."

Without coverage, Sundby faces potential death

The sheer costs associated with continuing her current treatments make health insurance an absolute must. But if no available insurance plan will cover her treatments, then Sundby faces the harsh reality that she may have to stop them altogether, which could mean losing everything she has fought so hard to keep, mainly her health and her life.

"For a cancer patient, medical coverage is a matter of life and death," Sundby concludes. "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."

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