Your recent story about Colin Smith’s experience with Blue Cross of Idaho uncovers the fact that insurers don’t want to cover Idaho’s sickest and most vulnerable patients. Thankfully, in Mr. Smith’s case, Blue Cross decided to do the right thing and cover his cancer drug.
Unfortunately, patients requiring three-times-a-week dialysis to stay alive aren’t so fortunate.
Insurers refusing third-party payments of premiums from nonprofits virtually guarantees that these patients — who turn to nonprofits because they can’t afford their premiums — will lose their coverage.
People with kidney failure are often too sick to work. While most qualify for Medicare, coinsurance and copays can bankrupt them absent supplemental policies that pay what Medicare doesn’t.
The nonprofit American Kidney Fund currently provides grant assistance to 178 Idaho dialysis patients, including 49 who can’t afford Blue Cross policies. Blue Cross is refusing to accept the fund’s payments.
The typical patient needing our support makes less than $20,000 per year, yet faces out-of-pocket costs of $7,000.
We urge Gov. Butch Otter to step in to ensure Idaho’s most vulnerable, chronically ill individuals can rely on charitable assistance to maintain their health coverage.
LaVarne A. Burton, president and CEO, American Kidney Fund, Rockville, Md.