Cancer Patient Fights Insurance Denial

When cancer strikes, two questions come to mind. How can it be treated and will my insurance pay the bills? A McCook, Nebraska man received lifesaving care after being reassured he was covered, yet thousands of dollars in medical bills still haven't been paid.

A tumor took his eyesight, but Robert Stecker says he clearly heard phone representatives from his insurance provider. “They clearly gave me the green light to go ahead and get the procedure done.”

But after 28 radiation treatments the bills have been rejected by World Insurance of Omaha. That’s left Robert and his companion, Carol Collicott, with $70,000 in unpaid medical bills.

Collicott mocks the insurance company response. “We’ve done the treatment and obviously have the expenses, but now it’s a different story. I guess we're not going to cover it."

Omaha attorney John Carroll Jr. said World Insurance claims Stecker's policy doesn’t cover outpatient treatments.

“Because it took place in a doctor’s office and not in the hospital is what they think. This is a shell game and every time we lift up a shell, they move to another spot.”

In an e-mail response to Six On Your Side, Mary Durand of World Insurance said:

“Phone representatives verify coverage exists, but do not guarantee or approve payment. Claim decisions are made only upon submission of the claims. Callers are advised to send in a predetermination request. Then the company will make a full assessment of whether there is coverage.”

"We took their word for it," said Carol. "I wish we had gotten it in writing."

Stecker is determined to beat cancer and not give up on demands that his insurance cover bills for lifesaving treatments. “I don’t think life hands you a living without you having to earn it. I’ve earned my way and paid my bills. In return I should be treated with more respect.”

Stecker said he’s paid premiums on the health insurance policy since 1994.

Stecker’s attorney wants World Insurance to provide a recording of what company phone representatives told the couple. The company confirms calls are recorded, but erased over time. Robert and Carol called months ago.

Stecker is considering a lawsuit against the Omaha-based insurer and plans to file a complaint with the state Department of Insurance.

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