Local nurse uninsured for 'preexisting' tumor

Local nurse in healthcare trouble

Healthcare issues strike close to home again, this time hitting someone who's spent more than 15 years in the medical profession.

Kristie Whisenhunt took a full time nursing job in southwest Louisiana not long ago. But the full-time benefits promised never came through. So she took another job where insurance would be guaranteed, or at least she thought, until she was diagnosed with a tumor in her eye less than two weeks ago.

"It was like I had been hit by a train," said Whisenhunt. "I was in shock. All I could do was sit there with my mouth open."

That's how Whisenhunt felt when an eye doctor told her she had a tumor attached to the iris in her right eye.

"He was performing the exam," said Whisenhunt. "I was told it wasn't good, to hope for a detached retina and surgery could fix it, or an aneurysm, possibly, or the last melanoma."

If that news wasn't enough, she found out two days ago that the insurance she pays for won't cover her medical expenses. They say it's because of her insurance lapse, and they're calling her tumor a  "preexisting" condition, even though she didn't know anything about it.

"I have had no clue this was around," said Whisenhunt. "There's no way to even detect this unless it's under a routine eye exam with dilation of the eye."

She's filed an appeal with her insurance company regarding the "preexisting" condition clause. But she can't even schedule doctors' appointments to have a claim to appeal, because this condition isn't covered.

"I really feel it is a political game with the health-care system, I do," said Whisenhunt. "I'm honest. I have a job. I go to my job every day. I'm paying for this insurance, and I can't use it."

She wonders if she's just another paying, insured person falling through the cracks.

"I'm just looking for answers," said Whisenhunt. "I'm not looking for people to pay my way through anything. I just want to save my life. I have a 10-year-old and a 20-year-old, and it's the hardest thing."

As a nurse for years, she's very familiar with the medical system, and when she needs it the most, she can't use it.

"I'm able to fix everybody else, but I can't fix myself," said Whisenhunt.

Whisenhunt is waiting to hear back from her insurance company on whether or not it can help her out.

She says she's also reaching out to members of Congress and to former Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco, who also had a serious eye condition.

We'll follow Whisenhunt's story as she moves forward in hopes of getting treatment.

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