Latina with leukemia can't afford life-saving surgery

What exactly is insurance for? I was under the assumption that having a percentage of money taken out of every paycheck (or paying for it out-of-pocket if you're self employed or your job doesn't offer an insurance plan) meant that I would be covered should I ever need life-saving surgery. Apparently that's not always the case, as a Brooklyn-raised Latina woman who has insurance found out recently.

With the clock ticking for 27-year-old Penelope Morales battling leukemia, she's scheduled for a bone marrow transplant but her insurance company won't approve the April-set procedure until she pays a $6,000 "deductible and coinsurance" fee. Nor her case is being taken on by patient advocacy group the National Foundation for Transplants and her community is coming together in support.

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But her problem isn't as uncommon as we think. According a spokesperson for NFT, not being able to pay for medical costs even when a patient has insurance can be a real issue. All across the country people seeking transplants can be turned away and, even worse, ultimately die.

"A lot of hospitals require a deposit. They have to make sure that you can afford life-long medication," said Stockton. "Unfortunately people pass away because the holdup is money."

With a recent study that revealed the inherited risk factors for childhood leukemia are more common in Hispanic patients, news of Penny Morales—as she goes by on her online donor page—isn't any better. But I'm hoping with the support she's receiving, UnitedHealthcare will either back down or she'll raise the money needed to save her life.

How prepared are you to contribute to a hefty hospital bill even though you have insurance?

Image via National Transplant Foundation

Topics: latino health  diseases  womens health