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Dan Rackley

Dan Rackley is a US Naval veteran living in Philadelphia and a contributor to "Will They Ever Trust Us Again?"

January 27th, 2011 1:15 PM

Vietnam Vet Dropped From Insurance Provider

In my last column I discussed the passive mistreatment directed towards veterans like myself at government sponsored facilities like the Philadelphia VA hospital.  To sum it up in just a few words for those of you who missed the last one; a certain segment of the support staff at the hospital need a serious dose of sensitivity training.  The treatment of veterans in all aspects of the medical community, down to the receptionists, phone bank operators and janitors has just as much to do with treatment and recovery as the doctors who have to work with us on a face to face basis.  I’m also talking about you, private insurance companies.

I first saw the story I am about to tell you on the ABC Nightly News while preparing for the eventual foot of snow we received.  Digging out of a snowstorm pales in comparison to what Ronald Flanagan and his family have had to deal with.  Ronald, A Vietnam Vet who had been diagnosed with bone barrow cancer almost three years ago was going in for a biopsy to find out if a stem cell treatment would help in fighting his cancer.  His wife Frances had to make the horrible decision of running into the office and telling the doctor to immediately stop the biopsy.  Why you ask?  Well folks, she had just been notified by her husband’s provider that they no longer had insurance.  Because of two cents.  Yes, two cents.

Every month, Ron Flanagan’s wife would log on to the internet and make their insurance premium payment.  One time however, she made a small mistake and punched a seven instead of a nine.  Leaving the insurance payment two cents short.  Now, if you miss paying for a soda by two cents, nobody cares.  Those insurance companies however, boy do they get upset.  Never mind if you got a cold or a broken leg or bone marrow cancer.  They will drop you like a rock.  Ron was about to get a potentially lifesaving procedure done and they dropped him.  A Vietnam Veteran that the only reason he had to get the procedure done was due to serving his country, Ceridian Cobra Services dropped his insurance.  Telling his wife that any treatment they got from that point would have to be out of pocket.  That sounds a little more expensive than a soda to me.

But Ceridian insisted that because they payment was not in full, they dropped him from coverage.  Yeah, not because of months of missed payments.  Because of two cents.  Chances are a random employee at Ceridian would find two cents if they looked under their desks right now.  Thank God that common sense eventually prevailed in this case.

It was reported that after having a conversation with the president of the company; the Flanagan’s insurance has been completely restored and Ron can now continue getting the treatment he needs.  Ceridian’s president also issued a full and complete apology for the whole mess saying that what happened was just ridiculous.  However, Bart Valdez, company CCO was rather ambivalent to the whole idea.  He had no idea why anyone should apologize to the family.  Gee Bart, how about making a family sit through the holidays wondering if Ron was going to live or die because of complete heartlessness in the accounting department?  Sounds to me like anyone that deals with anyone on a medical scale, whether treatment or insurance needs to take a giant common sense pill.  People’s lives are worth a hell of a lot more than your bottom line.  Especially in this case, when the bottom line is so thin you can’t even see it.  No word on whether the Flanagan family is being asked to pay the two cents.

So here’s a call to all people in the medical profession, whether you have a thermometer in your pocket or not.  Please exercise a little more common sense in the future.  It saves lives just as effectively as a flu shot or a bone biopsy.  And it doesn’t cost a cent.

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