Two years ago, Mildred Honeycutt, a senior and a resident of an assisted living community near Miami, Florida, was ecstatic about her new health coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Deemed ‘too affluent’ for Medicaid, she had found it impossible to get coverage due to her advanced age and several pre-existing medical conditions. Today she is singing a different tune.
“I went to see my doctor, because I’ve been tired all the time and I noticed I was bruising easily. They ran some tests, and it turns out I have leukemia. I asked the doctor what kind of treatment I would need, and he said that normally they would start chemotherapy and bone marrow transplants immediately. I asked him what he meant by ‘normally’, and he told me that those procedures for someone at my age aren’t covered. He said they are considered to be cost-prohibitive, meaning that the amount of time that they could extend my life was not deemed to be ‘worth the cost’.”
It gets worse. The approved treatment for someone in Mildred’s condition at her age is euthanasia. If she opts out of the approved treatment, meaning she will get to die naturally, the plan will not cover things like pain medication.
“It’s like they actually want to kill me. Either I let them do the same thing to me that they do to convicted murderers, or they’ll take my meds away and I’ll be in constant pain until I die naturally.”
An insurance underwriter from Blue Cross and Blue shield was willing to take a look at Mildred’s case on the condition of anonymity.
“It is pretty clear cut. They have all these financial de-escalators in place here, mostly buried in the fine print and shrouded in legalese. But, she is right. Her policy dictates that the only allowable treatment for her condition is euthanasia. If she refuses treatment, it will basically nullify her entire policy. She’ll wind up having to take Asprin for pain caused by her cancer, and she’ll have to pay for that out of pocket”
Mildred was understandably upset by the findings, and is unsure of what she is going to do. Even if she was to file a motion or suit, she would either be dead or too far gone to receive treatment before it ever got before a judge.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do. I know I’m going to die either way, but I don’t want to spend the rest of my life in agony. At the same time it seems wrong to just let them kill me like a feral dog. I am going to pray about it. It’s just not right,” said Mildred.
Whatever Mildred’s choice, she has a little over a week to decide. Her next appointment is coming up fast, and one way or another, it will be her last.