A California cancer patient says President Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act is costing her the world-class medical team that has kept her alive for seven years.
Edie Littlefield Sundby, who is battling stage 4 gallbladder cancer, said her “affordable, lifesaving medical insurance policy” is being canceled because her insurance company refuses to participate in Obamacare.
“I am a determined fighter and extremely lucky. But this luck may have just run out,” Sundby wrote in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal.
California resident Edie Littlefield Sundby poses with her husband, Dale.
She said she is facing a life-or-death dilemma when her policy ends on Dec. 31: get coverage through the state government health exchange and lose access to her cancer doctors, or go broke paying up to 50% more outside the exchange.
Her insurance company, UnitedHealthcare, announced in May that it will not participate in California’s insurance exchange, a spokesman for that state’s Department of Insurance said Monday.
UnitedHealthcare only has about 8,000 customers in California, or a mere 2% of the state’s individual market, making it tough to compete with Kaiser Permanente and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of California, which share 87% of the market.
“I am a determined fighter and extremely lucky. But this luck may have just run out,” Sundby writes.
Cheryl Randolph, spokeswoman for UnitedHealthcare, said the company is taking a wait-and-see-attitude about the California insurance exchange.
“Because of UnitedHealthcare of California’s historically small presence in the individual market and the fact that individual consumers in the state are well served with many competitive product offerings, we will focus on our employer group insurance and Medicare business in California for 2014,” Randolph said.
Cancer patient Edie Littlefield Sundby’s insurance company, UnitedHealthcare, will not participate in California’s state insurance exchange, a spokesman for the California Department of Insurance says.
The company’s decision leaves customers like Sundby, 62, in the lurch.
“For a cancer patient, medical coverage is a matter of life and death,” Sundby wrote. “Take away people’s ability to control their medical-coverage choices and they may die. I guess that’s a highly effective way to control medical costs. Perhaps that’s the point.”
She said UnitedHealthcare has paid $1.2 million to keep her alive since March 2007.
She said the medical plan has “never once questioned any treatment or procedure recommended by my medical team” — made up of doctors at Stanford University, the University of California, San Diego; Moores Cancer Center in San Diego and the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
“What happened to the President’s promise, ‘You can keep your health plan’? Or to the promise that ‘You can keep your doctor’ ?” Sundby wrote. “Thanks to the law, I have been forced to give up a world-class health plan. The exchange would force me to give up a world-class physician.”