Sevierville cancer patient worried about lifesaving treatments with insurance change


SEVIERVILLE (WATE) – Thousands of Tennesseans are waiting to see if they’ll have health insurance next year. BlueCross BlueShield recently announced they’re pulling out of Obamacare in cities across Tennessee, including in Knoxville.

Previous story: BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee leaves Obamacare in Knoxville, Nashville, Memphis

While many families are left scrambling, some are wondering if treatments like chemotherapy will be covered under a new plan. Colleen Meyerhoffer worries whether her cancer treatment center will accept her new plan and about how much she’ll have to pay.

“This is life or death for me,” she said.

Meyerhoffer has stage three ovarian cancer, diagnosed in 2014 one month after joining the marketplace.

“I was one of those people that was uninsured for years. I worked two or three jobs, but none of them qualified me for health insurance and I just couldn’t afford it on my own,” she said.

Two years later, Meyerhoffer is wrestling with too many questions because Humana will now be the only insurance carrier in Knoxville on the exchange.

“We think we’ve got it all worked out but I won’t know until November 1 or November 2 when the marketplace opens. So I’m waiting each day trying not to think about it,” said Meyerhoffer.

She’s made all the calls she can, but the other unknown is if she’ll be able to take part in a new chemo and clinical trial treatment, which starts January 1.

“Without insurance I would probably be dead because I would’ve laid on this couch in pain, taking every pain pill I could find to try and get through it and not rack up bills I couldn’t pay,” said Meyerhoffer.

While there’s a wait for answers, she says there’s still one option left.

“I don’t have a choice when I stop breathing, but I have a choice when I stop living. So, I’m choosing life. I’m choosing happiness because I hope I have 30 more years.”

It’s recommended that people who are losing BlueCross BlueShield coverage call Humana as soon as they can. Coverage will run up until December 31, but getting a new plan may take some time.

Lawmakers in Tennessee are searching for short-term fixes. Senator Lamar Alexander has said that families need to be given opportunities to use Obamacare subsidies to buy a policy for 2017 outside of the exchange.

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