Author Topic: Changing insurance after leukemia  (Read 616 times)

socaso

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Changing insurance after leukemia
« on: September 11, 2018, 10:48:11 AM »
Earlier this year my husband was diagnosed with leukemia. He went through chemo and the doctor says he is in remission now. He presently has Kaiser insurance and it is over $500 a month. I have insurance with United Healthcare through my work and re enrollment time is here. We had previously discussed moving him to my insurance when this time rolled around and it would definitely save money. Even if we got on the most expensive plan it would be $350 for both of us. Also, it would mean both of us are paying for insurance with pre tax dollars. Sign up is this month and new insurance begins next month. I'm not sure what to do. We'd both like to save money if we could but he has been receiving care from Kaiser doctors and he would have to find new doctors. Right now his follow up care mostly consists of getting once a month blood screenings. He is not on any medication. Due to the amount of care he has received he has hit the out of pocket maximum so any other care he needs this year is no additional charge (other than the premium). If we don't sign him up now he can't get on it for another year but he only has 3 more months until his deductible renews anyway, so 3 more months of "free" care. I'm just feeling very scared about this. He had two very costly hospital stays this year but those were both before the doctor said he was in remission. The one bright spot is the although the type of leukemia he has is very rare it is also very treatable and the vast majority of people with it who go through chemo never have a re occurrence of symptoms and if they do another round of chemo usually fixes it.

Has anyone ever been in this position? Is it better to stay with the doctors who treated you? Or, once you are in remission, is it ok to use new doctors?

Kakashi

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Re: Changing insurance after leukemia
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2018, 02:40:49 PM »
For some reason, a lot of people seem to think that another physician can just "pick right up" where a previous one left off.  Even if you were to get records from kaiser and give it to your new doc, which given leukemia treatment with hospitalizations, you will get a gigantic packet of pages.  Do you think a new doc is going to take the time to go through all those pages?  Or just flip through it and note some things here and there?  And even even if he goes through every single page, still won't know your husband as well as the old doc. 

At the end of the day, a new doc will "make do" with the situation.  But for the small difference you are talking about, it seems like maintaining the same docs is worth the extra cost.  I'm all for saving money, but man some things are just worth the money spent.

Unicorn

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Re: Changing insurance after leukemia
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2018, 10:34:35 PM »

From a medical perspective, it matters a great deal what the specifics of the diagnosis and treatment were. If the original presentation was straightforward, and the treatment regimen was standard without significant complications, and the patient is in remission, then it would not be unreasonably difficult for a new heme/onc to pick up the case. Patients transfer between institutions frequently. However, for unusual cases, non-standard regimens, or a complicated clinical course, the difficulty of becoming familiar with the prior details would be far greater.

It would also make a big difference what the expected duration of remission is, again based on the details of the diagnosis and clinical data. I understand you don't want to give those details, but there are indeed certain subtypes of acute leukemia that would be less likely to recur including in the short term. It seems based on what you say that this is the case with your husband. If so, that would also make me more comfortable with switching.

*However* ... other questions you should consider: Do you truly trust your current physician? What about your experiences with the affiliated hospital or cancer center? As you may have guessed, I have some experience with the field, and there are certain doctors  and institutions I would insist upon seeing in your scenario -- and some I would avoid. If you have already found one of the former,  then that is worth its weight in gold.