A Proud Methodist
03/24/2010 12:25 AM Filed in: Blog
It's been a long time since I've been proud to be a methodist. Over the last ten years, I've either called myself a "Bad Methodist" or a Christian Exestentialist. Either way, I don't always fit the rank and file march of anyone's religious norm (especially in this neck of the woods). I realize that statement is somewhat ironic considering I've lived here all of my life. I'm not going to get too political here but I will say that I'm happy about the passage of the healthcare bill and I'm glad that the United Methodist Church supported the bill. Many of you know that Ashlee is a brain cancer survivor. I never really thought much about healthcare until I started dating a cancer survivor and until my mom was diagnosed with leukemia (both happened at the same time). All I can tell you is my experiences and here they are:
Five years ago I married a young, beautiful woman named Ashlee. As mentioned, Mom was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia just two years before and although she suffered a lot over the two year span, mom was actually able to go to the wedding. Although she was in a final stage of AML, it was a very good day for her and she looked beautiful (Ashlee looked great too). Six months after our wedding, mom passed away. She died the day before we rented our first storefront location of Pladd Dot Music. I was able to show her the pictures of the storefront that I Photoshopped together with our logo so she could see what it would look like. When mom died, the health insurance companies called my dad every day for six months after her death. He told me it was a full time job–8 hours a day, every day for six months just to go over every treatment, every doctor's visit, every blood transfusion, and every hospital stay. Here's a man who just lost his wife of 45 years and now he had to re-live all those memories (not good ones, by the way) of how mom suffered the last two years of her life–all because the insurance company was trying to get out of paying the bill. My mom had always paid her insurance company on time yet they didn't see the need to do the same for her. I didn't know about Dad's struggle with the insurance company until recently. He went into a long depression cycle (two years and counting) and told me the story while he was living with us and battling his depression. For the past two years, he's received treatment from the VA hospital because it's the only thing that he can afford. He has no other insurance. Mom's insurance was the only plan he had.
About two years after Ashlee and I got married, she developed lesions on her brain and we were very scared at what the outcome could be. I'm not going to lie to you. I told God flat outright that I would be pissed at him forever if he took my wife. I actually used a lot of ugly words in my conversation with God. After all, I don't have the patience of Job, the courage of Daniel, nor do I have the wisdom of Solomon. I tend to have the anger and fire of David. I tend to tell God like it is from my point of view. I figure that way he knows pretty much where I stand and knows I'm not lying–hence the term "bad Methodist".
Anyway, since Ashlee's mom was the head of the nursing program at GSU, she knew a lot of people. She got us into see a neurosurgeon at Emory. He was an amazing man and requested that she have an MRI spectroscopy (that's an MRI that scans on the cellular level). No knife or invasive surgery is needed to see your brain tissues. They can tell what type of tissue it is without doing any surgery. We couldn't have the scan (or results) until the day after Christmas two years ago. We were on pins and needles until then.
Christmas came and it was the best Christmas present I ever got. Ashlee was fine.
Shortly after the medical bills came and wouldn't you know it–the insurance company was denying us payment over the procedure. That was odd. We paid $300 a month for insurance (not to mention how much the school system paid) and in just one year, what we paid was over $3600. I wondered why they wouldn't give us our money back. Why wouldn't they pay for a $1,500 expense. Now as a business person, if you give me $3,600 this year and ask for $1,500 next year, I PROMISE I will give you $1,500 next year. That's easy.
But wait–there's more. Their reason for denial was this: It was considered an experimental procedure. That's odd too. The Brain Surgeon at Emory said that it was the absolute best thing for my wife. It was what the doctor had ordered. Yet the insurance company called it "experimental".... WTF?
The following paragraph explains to you why my wife is the coolest person I have ever known:
After reading the letter and crying about the denial, Ashlee and I decided to hire a lawyer to get our money back from the insurance agency. She immediately got online and for about the next two weeks, read documented research about the validity of MRI spectroscopy and it's common use in the medical world. We were waiting for the appeal process to come from the insurance agency. After all, they make the rules of the appeal process and they had to tell us what the rules were. Fortunately for us, the mail runs faster in Claxton (which is where our lawyer is) and he got the letter before we did and called us immediately. The insurance company denied our appeal although they received it (along with the 400 pages of peer-reviewed supportive research) over two weeks before it was due. They said that their denial was because we didn't personally submit the appeal (even though their rules state that "You or a second party may submit an appeal"). They said that if we wanted our appeal to be considered, that the appeal was due at 5:00 (the same day that we got the letter). In other words, they mailed the denial letter out on the 15th, knowing that it would take two days to get to us and then set the appeal deadline on the 17th (two days after they sent it to us). And if we didn't send it in on that day? It was a breach of the appeal process and the appeal wouldn't be considered. After all, they did give us six hours to appeal the denial... The insurance company was stalling every way they could and continued to deny the pleas of our lawyer about giving us two days to mail our appeal letter (and research) to them. After they continuously denied him, he said "Fine... I'll keep your fax machine busy all day... we've got over 400 pages of documented research and I'm sending it...". The insurance company decided to accept her notorized paper stating that Ashlee had submitted the appeal. Then the insurance company scheduled several phone conferences to try to bully us out of our position. In the meantime, we had already paid the hospital out of pocket. To make a short story long, they finally cover the procedure after 6 plus months of hardened battle.
Ashlee won. She beat the insurance companies. No.. She kicked their ass. She wouldn't stand for injustice and she fought the good fight and won. I have never been so proud of anyone in my life. When our insurance check came in she broke down in tears and said that she was crying for other families that can't do the research. She said: "What about all those families that don't have a medical background or that didn't study the brain in college (like she did)". "What about the families that don't have the resources, time, or wherewithal to fight back?" You shouldn't have to have a degree in medicine and do weeks of research to get back what you've already paid from any company–ever.
So when the Methodist Church announced that they supported the house bill and announced on their website: "The United Methodist Church's social principles declares health care is a "basic human right"." and believe in "healthcare for all" in the U.S., It reaffirmed that they do care for my wife (who was raised a Methodist) and my Mom (who was a Methodist church accompanist for over 45 years) in the same way that Jesus did when he said "The greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind and the second is like unto that... love your neighbor as yourself".
So do I consider it "Socialism" to help pay for people who can't afford health insurance? No, I consider it a basic human right.
Am I proud to call myself a Methodist today? You're damn right I am.