U of Mississippi Medical physician sues insurers for denying cancer treatment

A physician practicing at the University of Mississippi Medical Center filed a lawsuit against his insurers for denying coverage of proton therapy to treat his brain cancer, according to the Sun Herald.

Bryan Hierlmeier, MD, a cardiac anesthesiologist at Jackson-based UMMC, sued the state employee's insurance plan and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Mississippi Oct. 24 over the coverage denial.

After Dr. Hierlmeier was diagnosed with brain cancer, his physicians recommended that he undergo proton therapy instead of traditional radiation to treat his cancer. However, his insurers denied coverage of the treatment three times. BCBS said the proton therapy was "experimental/investigational."

The lawsuit claims if Dr. Hierlmeier underwent traditional radiation therapy, it "would probably result in devastating health consequences that included adverse effects to his vision, memory loss, and cognitive impairment. In other words, [it] would end Dr. Hierlmeier's career as a professor and practicing anesthesiologist, to say nothing of the impact on the quality of his life," according to the Sun Herald's reading of the lawsuit.

Dr. Hierlmeier eventually decided to pay for the $155,000 proton therapy out of pocket.

At the time of publication, BCBS had not formally replied to Dr. Hierlmeier's lawsuit.

Read the full report here.

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