The internet provides patients with the resources to locate healthcare providers anywhere in the world. But whether your health insurance pay benefits for treatment with a health care provider anywhere in the world is another issue. Patients are often unhappily surprised when they discover that their health insurance policy limits them to healthcare only within their state or within the health insurance company’s network of providers.

The first step to understanding your health insurance coverage is requesting a copy of the policy. The policy dictates your healthcare coverage. Review your policy to learn whether your policy provides benefits if you go out of state, or out of the country, or see an out-of-network provider for treatment.

If the policy limits you to in-network or in-state benefits and you find a healthcare provider that is perfect for your needs, don’t lose hope. If you can show that there is no in-network or in-state health provider appropriate to treat you, you have a good argument for asking for out-of-network or out-of-state coverage even if the policy only approves in-network or in-state providers. The best argument will demonstrate that there are no in-network providers willing to take new patients or it is outside of their area of expertise. This argument will require through research through many telephone calls to in-network providers to determine whether they will accept the patient. Similarly with out-of-state providers, the argument requires research to demonstrate that there are no in-state providers available.

With the massive increase in wildfires throughout California, the Department of Insurance has adopted what is now an annual tradition of ordering insurance companies to refrain from policy cancellations and non-renewals in wildfire areas.  This year is no exception. On August 19, 2021, the Department of Insurance issued a one-year moratorium on cancellations or non-renewals of fire policies in the areas affected by the Lava and Beckwourth Complex fires.  More than 26,000 homes are affected, in Siskiyou, Lassen and Plumas counties.  This area was already included in last year’s moratorium, but this new order buys those policyholders another year.

Commissioner Lara’s office has stated that he intends to issue a similar moratorium for the Dixie and Caldor fires, once the perimeters of those fires are better established. The Dixie fire is currently only 35% contained. The Caldor fire is currently not at all contained.

These moratoriums are temporary respites from the insurance industry’s practice of non-renewing homes that are in wildfire areas. For homeowners who do lose their insurance because of their location, the “option of last resort” is the California FAIR Plan. This plan offers bare-bones coverage for fire coverage only.  The Department of Insurance ordered FAIR Plan to offer personal property coverage and liability coverage as well in 2019. The insurance industry has been fighting that, and in July 2021 a California superior court ordered FAIR Plan to comply.  Where FAIR Plan will likely appeal that decision, the ability to access this expanded coverage may not actually happen for some time to come.

I want to preface this blog post by saying that I do not have a long-term disability. However, for 16 years of my life, I suffered a life-threatening illness –an illness that I was told that I would either a) die from or b) never fully recover from. Time and time again during those 16 years, I was told to give up hope for any semblance of a normal life, or just resign to dying prematurely. For 16 years, I believed that I should not have hope and there came a point in my journey when I finally gave up all hope and I resigned myself to dying. As fate would have it, on the very same day that I had resigned myself to dying, I ended up having life-changing encounters with human beings who inspired me to fight back and begin the journey to reclaim my hope. Reclaiming my hope was not easy, to say the least. It took me two long and arduous years to reclaim my health and to restore hope, overcoming the odds that were stacked against me. One of those odds was my insurance company –it had told me time and again that I was not sick enough to have my medically necessary treatment covered by insurance. Those two years of fighting for myself, fighting back against the mental defeat I felt because of insurance telling me that I didn’t deserve benefits, during those two years, there were times when it was incredibly hard to hang on to any semblance of hope. I had to remind myself that, “Hope exists. If for no other reason than the Dictionary says it’s a word.”

After I fully healed from the illness, I took my newfound hope and went on to serve as Policy Director on Capitol Hill for a small non-profit dedicated the illness that I had once suffered. In that role, I advocated to raise awareness of that disease, and to get a Federal Bill passed on behalf of people suffering that disease. Once again, the odds were not stacked in my favor. I ended up spending over 10 years advocating with that tiny non-profit on Capitol Hill. During that time, I lost more people to the disease than I can count (meaning, they died), and I heard from people all across the country who had lost loved ones to that disease. Trust me when I say, despite my faith in God, it was not always easy to remain hopeful –I admit that, at times, my hopeful spirit dimmed. But finally, in December 2016, provisions from the bill passed. That day in December was one of jubilation…and yet of humble quiet. The passage of the bill was subdued because it was long-overdue and long-awaited for 16 years, especially by the family after whose daughter the bill was named. The bill was named after Anna Westin who died in 2000 after insurance denied benefits for her treatment.

On ‘the Hill,’ I learned many things. One of the most eye-opening things I learned was: No matter how worthy the cause, the odds are stacked against you if you want to get a bill passed. In fact, in 2016, out of the 12,000+ pieces of legislation that were introduced, only 3% (three percent) passed/were enacted into law.

Glioblastoma, also known as glioblastoma multiforme, is an aggressive type of cancer that can occur in the brain or spinal cord. Glioblastoma can occur at any age but tends to occur more often in older adults. Many glioblastoma symptoms develop slowly and get worse over time. Common symptoms may include:

  • Headaches
  • Loss of appetite

Here at Kantor & Kantor, we like to refresh and give updates to certain parts of the process we use to help individuals. We feel that the more people understand their insurance benefits, the better they will be able to fight when benefits are denied. Long-term disability (LTD) insurance is a large part of this process, so we will explain the basics here.

Long-term disability insurance is an insurance policy that protects an employee from loss of income in the event that he or she is unable to work due to illness, injury, or accident for a long period of time.

LTD can provide benefits for work-related accidents or injuries that are covered by Workers’ Compensation insurance, but there usually will be an offset, where the LTD benefit is reduced dollar-for-dollar by the amount of Workers’ Compensation payment. LTD also does cover an employee in the event of a personal accident such as a car accident or a fall.

This Kaiser Health News article highlights the challenges of women attempting to obtain coverage for appropriate birth control options recommended by their physicians.

The article shows how insurance coverage is driven by a chart developed by the FDA for consumer education, not intended to exclude insurance coverage for other types of birth control.

Insurance companies further restrict coverage by limiting options to a list of approved products and requiring patients to given reasons why they cannot use other forms of contraceptive methods before other products will be approved.

The California Fair Access to Insurance Requirements Plan Association or “FAIR Plan” was established by statute in 1968 to meet the needs of California homeowners unable to find insurance in the traditional marketplace. The FAIR Plan is a syndicated fire insurance pool comprised of all insurers licensed to conduct property/casualty business in California. All licensed property/casualty insurers that write basic property insurance required by Insurance Code sections 10091(a) and 10095(a) are members of the FAIR Plan. The FAIR Plan issues policies on behalf of its member companies. Each member company participates in the profits, losses, and expenses of the Plan in direct proportion to its market share of business written in the state.

Wildfires have caused insurmountable destruction in California over the last decade, causing many insurers to pull back from the California fire insurance marketplace. While many Californians have turned to the FAIR Plan for fire risk insurance, the FAIR Plan represents itself to the public as an “insurer of last resort” that provides only “basic property coverage.”  The FAIR Plan website states: “While we will support homeowners regardless of a property’s fire risk, unlike traditional insurers, our goal is attrition. For most homeowners, the FAIR Plan is a temporary safety net – here to support them until coverage offered by a traditional carrier becomes available.”  While attrition may be the goal, the reality for many California homeowners is that coverage from a traditional insurer has not become available, and likely will not, as fires continue to rage throughout the state year after year.  Insurers continue to notify homeowners who live in threatened areas that they will not be renewing their coverage.  With the marketplace having so few affordable options, many have no choice but to turn to the FAIR Plan.

Because the FAIR Plan was intended to provide only “basic property coverage” and not other types of coverage such as personal liability or theft, homeowners would have to buy a secondary insurance plan in order to have comprehensive coverage equivalent to a typical homeowners insurance policy.  In 2019, recognizing the economic disadvantage to Californians living in fire-threatened areas, the Insurance Commissioner ordered the FAIR Plan to begin covering more than just basic property coverage.  The order required, in part, that by June 1, 2020, FAIR Plan must offer for sale to California consumers a comprehensive homeowners property insurance policy.  The FAIR Plan sued, arguing the Insurance Commissioner’s order was illegal in that the Commissioner lacked statutory authority under the Basic Property Insurance Inspection and Placement Plan to require FAIR Plan to sell a comprehensive homeowners policy.  This month, the court held that that the Commissioner did have statutory authority to require FAIR Plan to offer insurance which includes liability coverage, but only if that coverage is related to the property. The full text of the order can be found HERE:

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Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that is triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.

According to the National Center for PTSD, a program of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, about seven or eight of every 100 people will experience PTSD in their lifetime. Women are more likely than men to develop PTSD. Certain aspects of the traumatic event and some biological factors (such as genes) may make some people more likely to develop PTSD.

Even though PTSD treatments work, many people who have PTSD do not get the help they need. June is PTSD Awareness Month. The goal of PTSD Awareness Month is to spread the word that effective PTSD treatments are available.

When the disability insurance attorneys at Kantor & Kantor, LLP see what is happening with those whose COVID-19 symptoms are continuing for more than a month, they know that there is a good chance that long-term disability claims will be denied. Because of this, we have developed the COVID Longhaulers Legal Resource Center.

In fact, the symptoms that Longhaulers are experiencing match many of the same disabling symptoms those living with autoimmune diseases such as ME/CFS, Dysautonomia, POTS, and more.

Since the symptoms dovetail, we are confident that the inevitable problems and denials with the long-term disability insurance providers will follow suit.

Aaron Monheim, age 34, lives in Spokane, Washington with his wife and three year old daughter. In 2019, Aaron was diagnosed with aggressive relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis which has been unresponsive to medications and leaves Aaron partially disabled due to frequent flares and relapses.

Aaron’s physicians recommended him to receive a treatment called hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, found to be particularly suited for his form of relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis. The treatment will effectively reset his immune system so it will no longer attack his central nervous system. The treatment is also less costly than the traditional medications for multiple sclerosis which have been unsuccessful for Aaron.

Despite having been referred to the treatment by his own Kaiser doctor, Aaron’s health plan, Kaiser Permanente, has denied benefits for the treatment claiming the treatment is not necessary or suited for Aaron’s condition.

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