While filming Sicko, insurance companies refused to talk to Michael. Oprah Show producers wondered, would they talk to us?
Lisa Ling decided to give it a try. Lisa spoke with three viewers, all of whom were having disputes with their insurance companies. Stewart, a 25-year-old insured oil and gas employee was diagnosed with leukemia in 2006. Doctors said his best chance for survival was a bone marrow transplant. To his relief, his brother was a perfect donor candidate, and Stewart prepared to undergo his treatment.
Then, just a few weeks before the procedure, Stewart says he received a call from the hospital. "[They said] he'd have to bring $250,000 cash because his healthcare policy would only cover $150,000 of it," Lisa says. Stewart had to delay the transplant, and he says his cancer returned. He is now blind in one eye.
Hoping for an explanation, Lisa put in a call to Stewart's insurer. According to Lisa, the company said it had approved the transplant but confirmed that they would only pay the $150,000 maximum listed within his policy. Since Stewart couldn't afford the additional costs, he has been searching for other ways to pay for the procedure.
A few weeks after this show taped, Stewart finally found a way to fund the entire operation. His bone marrow transplant was completed on September 21, 2007. Sadly, Stewart passed away due complications from leukemia on January 15, 2008. He was 26 years old.