The Health Insurance Nightmare. Here's What Happened.
October 7, 2021

Here is a horror story that will shake the boots of poker players. One of the disadvantages of playing cards is the lack of health insurance and we've accepted that reality as we hit the tables day after day. There are no group policies to join, no protections from the insurance companies as they hold the power to judge and discard us at will. If you're healthy you can buy a plan to protect yourself from financial ruin. But if you have a pre-existing condition, or make any minor mistake in your application, or receive a diagnosis that you'll have to deal with your entire life...good luck. When it comes to something as important as health care, why is profit-maximization allowed to be the driving factor?


"They dropped you the day you graduated." These words sank into my chest. I graduated from college and two months later, an MRI report indicated that I had a large and aggressive tumor in my upper left calf/knee. My mom's insurance no longer covered me.

I paid $385 to consult with a private specialist who was very concerned but couldn't help me without a diagnosis. A biopsy was needed as soon as possible to find out if it was cancer. The procedure would involve many doctors and be costly.

"I don't have health insurance. What do I do?" They advised me to visit the Public Social Services office and apply for Medi-Cal. I waited for three hours to finally speak to someone who asked me a series of questions. Are you under the age of 21? Do you have minor children? Are you disabled or pregnant? No? You don't qualify for Medi-Cal. I could've tried to obtain disability first but that would've taken months. In my condition I didn't have time to wait.

That midnight I checked myself into the emergency room of the LAC-USC Medical Center in Los Angeles. The public hospitals charged less and had payment programs to help with the financial cost. After waiting for eight hours among a full room of exhausted patients I was finally able to speak to a doctor. She scheduled a biopsy for a month down the line. The public hospitals were crowded and waiting was the norm.

I couldn't handle another month of not knowing. My condition was worsening. I could barely bend my knee and the pain around it was making walking more difficult every week. I agreed to pay a private hospital $1,400 cash for a CT needle-guided biopsy, scheduled for a week and a half later.

In the meantime my mom's employer finally offered me COBRA which is a legally required extension of the previous plan under conditions such as graduation or job loss. I sent in my enrollment form and a check for one-day delivery, hoping that my worries were over, that my battle for coverage ended here. It didn't.

As soon as I received my new insurance card another letter came from my mom's work. It hit us like a bomb. They were now refusing me COBRA, claiming that she hadn't informed them of my graduation date within the required 60-day time frame. My policy could be be revoked.

My mom met with her managers and human resources agents day after day, often in tears as she begged for my life. Our lawyer friend sent a letter to her employer arguing her side, that she had in fact given proper notification of my graduation date. There had been many conversations with managers about it. There was also the vacation request specifically made for the event. After a final meeting with her managers, she called me and spoke in a tone of voice that I hadn't heard in a while. It was filled with hope. She had fought desperately  and succeeded.

Two and a half weeks after the biopsy the result came back a soft tissue sarcoma. It is a rare form of cancer that often affects the limbs. My insurance policy could only be used in Virginia so I packed my bags and left California. That life would have to be put on hold. I needed to step away and focus on getting healthy.

Since then I've started my first cycle of chemotherapy in a three-month attempt to shrink the tumor. It's been hard but I'm fighting, and am grateful to be able to wage this war against cancer without going a million dollars in debt.

For now my story ends on a good note. I'm one of the lucky ones. There are countless others who cannot say the same and for them I ask...why is it that in this great nation of ours does it have to be a luxury to simply fight for our lives?

Took down 6k pot vs Laak. Rivered nut flush

1 hour ago
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