Woman's parents fund $95K cancer treatment after UnitedHealthcare denies coverage: 6 things to know

UnitedHealthcare denied a cervical cancer patient coverage for life-saving proton beam therapy, reports CNN.

Six things to know:

1. Kate Weissman, 33, was diagnosed with cervical cancer in fall 2015. She underwent standard chemotherapy and radiation, but she learned months later that the cancer was found in her paraaortic lymph nodes, according to the report.

2. Ms. Weissman had her lymph nodes taken out. According to CNN, her physicians then recommended she receive proton beam therapy. The specialized treatment was recommended by her physicians at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Massachusetts General Hospital, both in Boston. They believed it was the best option for the patient. 

3. However, Ms. Weissman's insurer, UnitedHealthcare, ended up denying coverage. After an appeals process, the insurer said, "There is not enough medical evidence to show proton beam therapy is effective for your particular condition," according to the report. 

4. Without insurance, the proton beam therapy would cost Ms. Weissman $95,000. That financial burden was too much for her and her husband at the time, so she asked her parents for help, according to the report. Her parents agreed to help and paid the hospital so treatment could start.

5. Today, UnitedHealthcare is standing by its previous decision, telling CNN, "Three independent radiation oncologists agreed that proton beam therapy was not safer or more effective than the proven standard of care. We are pleased that Mrs. Weissman is doing well, and welcome studies that examine the use of proton beam therapy for additional types of cancer." The insurer did not provide names of those physicians, but it said there is "no credible evidence that proton beam therapy is safer or more effective than the proven and covered treatments that are the standard of care for cervical cancer."

6. As for Ms. Weissman's parents, CNN reports they were sent a refund of $40,000 from the hospital following their $95,000 payment, with no explanation.

Read CNN's full story here.


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