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Friday, May 18, 2007

She sent the insurer her War Documents: The insurance warrior patient advocate

A 57-year-old massage therapist from Seattle with a master’s degree in French literature seems an unlikely consumer militant, but Laurie Todd was forced to become one when she was diagnosed with appendix cancer in 2005. After learning that the only available treatment was a lengthy surgery performed by just a handful of surgeons, she was further stunned to learn that her health insurer deemed it "out of network" and wouldn’t pay.

"They said, in essence, 'Go home and die.'" she recalled. "For me, it was like waving a red flag in front of a bull. The idea that there was this lifesaving treatment for me, but I’m going to die because my insurer wouldn’t pay for it, was totally ridiculous."

She spent weeks preparing her appeal. She pored over HMO Web sites, read dozens of lawsuits against health insurers and called every patient advocate agency she could find. Within days of receiving what she called her "War Documents," the insurer agreed to cover the surgery that saved her life.

After that, Laurie said, she began helping other people who were stymied by their insurance carriers. Then she wrote Fight Your Insurance Company and Win: Secrets of the Insurance Warrior (available at her web site). "I wish to God there was no need for such a book," she said. "But what I’m doing is empowering people to save their own lives."

Laurie’s Advice: "You have to amass evidence and proof. You have to do research. You have to be your own medical case manager. You have to do whatever it takes to get them to pay."

What if someone is too sick to launch the sort of battle she describes? "Find family or friends to do it. Either you give up, or you take charge."

Read a story about the difference insurance coverage can make, or read Dianne Williamson’s source story.

[I don’t get any money for recommending Laurie’s book, which I haven’t read yet.]

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