EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

November 23, 2013

Don't gamble with health care

The great Muhammad Ali once said, “Life is a gamble.” It’s true, much of what we know about life is the result of taking a chance.

But gambling isn’t a good idea when it comes to healthcare---especially for those of us who are waging battles against chronic, life threatening diseases.

But sadly, insurance companies are doing just that---gambling on the health of people in our state in order to inflate their bottom line.

I was diagnosed with a rare blood cancer six years ago. Since then, I’ve been on a myriad of treatments to fight the disease and give me a good quality of life. My doctors and I have worked hard to figure out what medications and treatments are most effective and allow me to live life to the fullest.

That’s why it was so confounding to me but no surprise to my doctor when in the midst of my treatment, my insurance company tried to keep me from getting a medication that my doctor had prescribed.

One of the side effects of my disease and cancer treatment is neuropathy---damage to the nerves in a person’s body. As one might imagine, this condition causes extreme pain.

My doctor and I worked to find a medication to help manage the pain. The first medication I tried made me extremely dizzy. So, my doctor quickly prescribed another medication. But here’s where the trouble started.

When I went to the pharmacy to fill that second prescription I was told by the pharmacist that my insurer would not pay for the second medication---until I had proven to fail on the first for a 30 day period. This happened several times over the years, and my doctor has had to repeatedly intervene to keep me on the medication we both know works best for me.

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