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Consumer Confidential: telemarketer. An Alzheimer's patient. A health insurance nightmare

David Lazarus, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

Every time you think you've seen every possible way the U.S. healthcare system lets people down, along comes some new outrage that leaves you slack-jawed and shaking your head.

This is one of those.

Linda Williamson's 76-year-old mother has Alzheimer's disease. She still lives in her San Fernando Valley home with the help of a caregiver. Williamson has two notarized power-of-attorney documents to handle her mom's finances and healthcare.

"She can't drive," the Granada Hills resident told me. "She can't do her own shopping. She doesn't pay her own bills. She doesn't always remember the names of her grandkids."

So just imagine what might happen if an aggressive salesman got on the phone with her to pitch a change in health insurance providers.

And imagine what might happen if a major health insurer didn't want to listen to reason after signing her up as a new customer.

 

I could stop right here, since you probably already see where this is going and what a nightmare this represents for all people with aging parents.

But let's continue. It's important to spell out, as often as necessary, how reckless our healthcare system is and how, time after time, it places profits ahead of patients.

Williamson, 52, said she didn't learn of the situation until she visited her mom's house the other day. She found paperwork from the insurance company Humana welcoming a new member into the fold.

She also found a letter from Anthem Blue Cross saying it was sorry that Williamson's mom is no longer a Medicare Advantage customer. The Anthem coverage was connected to Williamson's mom being employed in the past by the Los Angeles Unified School District.

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