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Widow left with medical bills

Posted On Wed, November 18, 2009

After a supposed approval from her health insurance provider, an Illinois widow was saddled with a bill for more than $161,000, which was charged for a failed cancer treatment for her husband.

Fanny Gonzalez's story was recently featured in a column from the Chicago Tribune's Jon Yates. Her husband, Jose Sanchez, was diagnosed with a form of gastric cancer and in January went to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America.

There, the Tribune notes, the couple was told that the center would look into a certain drug for treatment of the cancer after it cleared the move with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, which was Sanchez's insurance company. Eventually, they got a letter from the center saying the treatment was approved.

However, because the drug used was considered "experimental" in the treatment of the particular cancer, the claim was eventually denied.

"This was a total shock to me," Gonzalez told the paper. "Knowing that I was going to be put into this situation, I would not have accepted the drug."

Despite the treatment, Sanchez eventually succumbed to the cancer on May 21. Now, his wife was left with the bill. However, after being contacted by the Tribune, the center said it would work out a plan to help Gonzalez pay off the debt, with the possibility that it will be forgiven.

Sanchez isn't alone when it comes to struggling to pay off medical bills. For example, a recent study showed that 62 percent of bankruptcies were caused by costs associated with health care, even though 78 percent of those studied had health insurance.

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