After an 18-year-old learned her insurance company was denying her a life-saving stem cell transplant to treat her cancer, she took to Twitter to express her outrage and ended up changing the insurance company’s decision.
Lorelei Decker was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and after chemotherapy failed to treat it, she was told a stem cell transplant was her only hope.
While she fully expected to be able to receive the transplant without any large financial issues, Blue Cross Blue Shield changed everything when they said her transplant surgery was “not medically necessary” and refused to pay for it.
She then wrote on Twitter about the incident, and it soon became a trending topic across her home state of Oklahoma.
Her mother also joined the fight and tweeted about it as well as re-tweeting hundreds of messages from people wishing her well.
“All hell’s about to break loose,” mother Andrea Decker said on Twitter. “BCBS DENIED Lorelei’s transplant. No words for how angry I am. I guess it’s cheaper to let her die.”
Lorelei then added, “Blue Cross Blue Shield denied my application for coverage of my transplant. They think it isn’t medically necessary. My family is irate...my life depends on this.”
The Deckers started a hashtag #ApproveLorelei so Twitter users could get the attention of the insurance company.
It only took a day for the company to reverse their decision and approve her cancer treatment.
Though they’re happy they can now give her a transplant, they said the incident calls for a change in how insurance companies make life or death decisions.
“It’s not OK for me to wonder, ‘can I fight? Do I have hope? Do I have a chance?’ when I know that there’s a chance with this transplant, but will I even get to use the transplant?” Lorelei said. “And that’s the question, and I shouldn’t even have to question that.”
She said if it were not for the social media attention, she might not have been able to receive it.
“Typically people don’t fight on social media or don’t publicize the issues that they’re having issues with insurance coverage, and it’s just up to them to call and reapply or mail it in,” she said.
“But when there is a level of publicity there, there’s a level of urgency to defuse the situation, and so you’re kind of put on the front burner, finally.”
Her mother agreed.
“The only thing that happened between the denial and approval was a Twitter storm,” Andrea said.
A spokeswoman for Blue Cross Blue Shield, Hilarie Houghton, said she could not reveal exactly why she was denied.
She said there was a “medical review process to ensure that our members receive appropriate, necessary and effective care.”