Michael Napientek of Clarendon Hills was in excruciating pain and needed back surgery. His wife has worked in the health-care field for 30 years and thought she knew how to navigate the insurance bureaucracy.
Before Napientek was wheeled into an operating room Oct. 27, his doctor obtained a preauthorization number. The surgery went well, and within weeks Napientek was feeling much better.
Until April. That's when the couple began receiving a series of letters from the insurance administrator with chilling news: Claims for the surgery had been denied, leaving them on the hook for the heart-stopping total of $148,000.Happily for Napientek, the columnist who writes The Tribune’s “Problem Solver” column was able to get the matter reviewed by UnitedHealth, the parent company of the firm that administered Napientek’s claim. Of course, when UMR decided to pay the claim it insisted that it had nothing to do with the possibility of appearing on the front page of a major metropolitan newspaper. It was mere coincidence that it happened to complete its review within a couple days of being contacted by The Tribune.
Conservative love to invoke the boogey men of government bureaucrats making decisions that should be made by doctors and patients as if insurance company bureaucrats are benevolently devoted to the well-being of patients. BTW, the CEO of UnitedHealth made $8.2 million dollars over the last two years. Let’s hope his bonus isn’t hurt too much this year.