Longtime nurse has no coverage for liver transplant

Tennessee resident Beverly Loyd found out that even after buying the insurance that was available to her, she won't be getting the care she needs to live.

A Tennessee nurse who cared for other people for most of her life is now dying because she doesn’t have adequate health insurance.

Beverly Loyd, 61, purchased an insurance policy that won't cover a liver transplant  the only thing that can save her life, her family says.

Because Loyd's insurance won't cover the transplant, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, the hospital where she was admitted, discharged her to a hospice on May 24, her daughter Jessica Reed told MSN News Friday.

"They told me I would essentially have two weeks to live," Loyd, who lives in Crossville, Tenn., told The Tennessean.

'PRAYING FOR A MIRACLE'

Loyd remains under hospice care, bedridden with a catheter in her bladder while her family prays for a miracle or some kind of coverage that will pay for her surgery.

"I am working 100 different angles to try and get her insurance," said Reed, who has reached out to everybody from Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam to Ellen DeGeneres for help.

Sandy Dimick from Health Assist Tennessee, which helps the uninsured receive medical care, said that although Loyd had done everything right and purchased what she thought was a credible insurance policy after retiring, it won't pay for the care she needs.

"We are doing all this because I don't want any other family to go through something like this," Loyd told MSN News. "I am hoping that people will check their insurance policy, because if you don't have enough you will suffer. . . . I am trying to hold out as much as I can even though it's terribly difficult to carry on."

Loyd, who was a nurse for 40 years and raised three kids, contracted hepatitis C during an emergency hysterectomy. She learned she had a problem with her liver after a lab technician friend tested her blood to check the controls on a new machine almost 20 years ago.

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Loyd's Medicare benefits won't kick in until Nov. 1, and she will qualify for coverage under the Affordable Care Act after Jan. 1, 2014, when insurance companies won't be able to deny her coverage in spite of her pre-existing conditions. But it might be too late, her family said.

"She won't live that long without a transplant," said Tennessee Justice Center's executive director, Gordon Bonnyman, who is helping Reed with her mother's case.

Without sufficient insurance, "she's been condemned to die, basically," Bonnyman said, citing Loyd's case as a dramatic example of what happens now in the U.S. when people can't get insurance because of pre-existing conditions.

'WE ARE NOT LOOKING FOR HANDOUTS'

Vanderbilt currently has approximately 1,300 patients on its solid organ transplant lists. Because organs are so scarce, candidates who meet the maximum number of prerequisites — at the top of which sits health insurance — take priority.

"The surgery itself is but a first step in what is a lifelong journey for an organ transplant recipient," John Howser, a spokesman for Vanderbilt, told MSN News in a statement. "Following surgery, medical management for transplant recipients can be complicated and costly."

Monthly medication costs for the average liver transplant recipient can run from $3,000 to $5,000, but average approximately $20,000 per year moving forward, Howser said.

"As an institution we cannot, in whole, assume the financial liability for post-transplant expenses," he said. "Nor would it be ethical to selectively pick and choose among the many individuals worthy of organ transplantation for who should receive the benefit of free post-transplant medications and clinical management."

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Reed, herself a nurse, says that the family is not looking for handouts and will even make payments to cover the cost of transplant and follow-up medications.

"I never thought that you could have a life-threatening problem and all people could just say is 'there's nothing I can do for you because you don't have insurance," she said. "As nurses, we were taught to help people all our life. It's frustrating for me because my mother served as a nurse and paid money into the system and now the system has failed her."

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