Hi my name is Becca (from Estevan, SK, originally from Vancouver Island, BC) and I’m trying to help my grandparents. My grandfather Louis Lamothe had a massive stroke almost three weeks ago on Feb 3rd, 2023 in Yuma, Arizona, but is a Canadian Citizen. He did purchase travel insurance through Blue Cross and he did answer questions truthfully, (to the best of his knowledge), but they have denied his claim thus leaving us/them with a $56,435.00 CDN bill we need to pre-pay to get him home to Canada, $200,000 USD in hospital bills or more, and $8000 CDN in hotel, fuel and meal expenses. This doesn’t include the travel we will need to incur to see him in rehab/Canadian hospitals, or any modifications now required to their home. Please read more below.
The reason my grandpa Louis’ claim was denied (on day 16 of him being in the ICU, out of a 23 day hospital stay), was because at some point in time his cholesterol pill changed from 10 mg to 20 mg. Yes, you read that right. This is their only reasoning for refusing to cover him after he paid thousands of dollars for coverage. Louis is a very honest and kind man. He would not lie. He told Blue Cross about his heart attack, he told them about his COPD (lung disease), why would he hide a 10mg cholesterol pill dosage change? I don’t know if he forgot about this at 72 years old, or if he even ever knew about the change? Would you know if you had a 10mg change, but your prescription name stayed the same?
His stroke has left him paralyzed on the left side, unable to speak, and unable to swallow (he finally swallowed some small ice chips on day 22). He has extensive rehabilitation ahead of him in Regina, SK, and more hospital stays, (an hour and a half from their hometown, two hours from me, and his wife will have to travel to visit him or possibly find accommodations there). We don’t know yet if he will need to go into a nursing home, or if we need to build wheelchair ramps and/or make their home more accessible.
When Blue Cross had Can Assistance call to let us know they weren’t covering anything, it was immediate. It was a two minute long phone call that said “you’re not covered, we will refund the cost of his travel insurance, you’re on your own now.” I repeatedly had them repeat the reason why this claim was being denied, and they told me to call blue cross to dispute it. (I was on hold for the next 6 hours trying to get through)
We also learned in this phone call (as I pushed to try and ask more questions and ask why they would do this) that had my grandma been on the same policy as him, her coverage would have been terminated immediately too!! (Please keep this in mind as well)
Blue Cross didn’t tell us that they were rejecting the claim until well into two weeks of his hospital stay. We got them all information required and were never once led to believe it wouldn’t be covered. Every time we needed to call them we were on hold for 3-6 hours. Even when the initial claim for the stroke had to be called in. Who has time for that during such an extensive family emergency?
Now From the beginning:
My grandpa Louis was having a hard time breathing Feb 2nd and told Arlene he would sleep in a recliner chair that night, (thinking his COPD was maybe acting up), she heard a thud at 6 AM and went down the hall of their fifth wheel to investigate. This is when he had his stroke and she called 911 because she couldn’t get him up. He went by ambulance to Yuma Hospital, and was then air lifted to Phoenix Banner University Medical Centre. Arlene’s friend drove her to Phoenix from Yuma and was by her side until I arrived. (Louis’ brother also made the 30 hour drive from BC almost
Immediately to be by our side as well for 5 days)
By Feb 6th, I was able to hop in my car and drive 6 states to be with my grandma to help her through this. I had to leave my three kids at home with my hubby, Curtis, and he parented, took care of our foster dog we had just taken in, ran kids to sports and ran our business. I didn’t know how long I’d be or if I’d be driving my grandpa home, driving both of them home, or what would happen, but knew they also had their two dogs and all their belongings down there as well. He said “you need to go”, and I left.
Louis was the primary caregiver in their house, and they have some major life changes ahead of them.
His wife (my grandma), and I, had been staying in hotels in Phoenix to be near him as he needed constant care. (His stroke happened during the SuperBowl, Barrett Jackson Car Show and a Huge waste management golf tournament). Hotels were up to $700 some of the nights (for what should have been a $60 motel.)
We had to leave Phoenix one day to sell their fifth wheel in Yuma, and pack up their belongings, and are now finally back in Canada as of Feb 28th. Someone will still need to fly down and pick up their truck full of the rest of their belongings and drive it back to Canada, (but back to the story).
We were sitting in the ICU every day for 12 hours a day, praying he would get better for almost 15 days and then he was transferred to a patient room on the neuro floor for another 8 days. He spent a total of 23 days in a U.S. hospital as we pushed and pushed to get him home.
At almost three weeks, he was finally given approval to get flown back to Canada, but because insurance rejected their case, we were responsible for paying up front for his $56,435.00 Cdn medical flight home, AND we had to find the medical flight for him. (We were quoted up to $70,000 from some companies)
He needed a stretcher, a medical team, his feeding tube, and his A fib medication, so any other possible ways to get him home just wouldn’t work with the paralysis and his medical situation.
After we got the claim rejection call, my grandma and I were trying hard, and working day and night to get this done with little to no help from the hospital! The minute insurance rejected the claim, (ONLY due to his cholesterol pill being changed from 10mg to 20mg, and him not knowing this….absolutely ridiculous) we were basically left on our own struggling with no help from insurance OR the hospital OR case managers. We were being told things like “we had to line up his transfer, and we had to line up the flight, we had to find a bed for him in SK, etc.” When in fact this was not the case. This was the hospitals job to do this. We were told multiple times we would have a case manager at the hospital to help us deal with this, and after 25+ times of trying to call them, (nurses paged and called them too) we got through twice only to be told we would get a call back, and didn’t, until 20 days into this.
After calling multiple medical airlines, Louis’ sister found a wonderful company called Angels of Flight based out of Ontario, Canada, that was going to work with us. She had some prior experience working with this company so we were comfortable using them.
Angels of Flights said they would provide air ambulance, ground transportation, gather his medical reports, provide the medical team for the transport, and do all communication required between all the hospitals and/or the rehab facility. The only downfall was, the flight had to be pre-paid before it could leave the ground. Thus bringing us to this go fund me page. The flight was just over $56,000 CDN.
6 days after speaking with Angels of Flights, (between multiple family members and some go fund me funds), we were able to use a line of credit and get the flight set up. We still need to raise some of these funds back.
Best day ever - Louis officially landed back in Canada Feb 26th, and was transported to the Regina General Hospital.
We had multiple pages of paperwork to try and do from the hotel and my phone in Phoenix, but were able to get it done, and they made it as quick and painless as possible. I have nothing but wonderful things to say about the ladies at Angels of Flights. They were an absolute miracle and made this as quick and painless as humanly possible. They were easy to get in touch with, and corresponded with us the entire time my grandpa was in their care. (This includes transport to the flight, departure, and arrival)
Once the flight was completely lined up. Grandma and I hit the road for the 30 hour drive home with their belongings and dogs. My grandpa Louis arrived in Canada 3 hours before we did, and we had family that was able to go see him once he was in his room in the Regina General Hospital.
Back to fundraising:
The three week ICU bill is coming to Arlene and Louis one of these days, and I’d like to get them as much help as possible, as EVERYONE loves Louis and wants him to get better with less stress on their plate ! After talking to Patient Financial Services, she was able to confirm that the hospital bill would easily be over $200,000 u.s, but couldn’t confirm an exact amount yet.
Grandpa Louis had multiple CT scans, chest x rays, ultrasounds, a medical flight from Yuma to Phoenix, multiple heart medications as he went into A-Fib, pain killers, lasix to try and get the swelling in his brain down, an intubation tube because he couldn’t breathe on his own, a feeding tube, he had 5-7 specialists working on him. It will not be a small bill.
But for the beginning of this, our focus was getting the medical flight pre-paid for, and getting Louis home to rest in Canada so we could get home too!! I am now redirecting all fundraising to helping with the medical bills, modifications to their home, support for Grandma Arlene as she travels to stay near him, and so much more added expenses.
We are not the type of family to ask for help like this, and appreciate any and all help we can get them in these horrible times. Words cannot express how grateful we are. My grandparents are 72 and 80 year old pensioners and don’t deserve this. They shouldn’t have to sell their home to pay medical bills because Blue Cross denied their claim. Especially after they thought they followed all the right steps when applying. She says the hospital will have to expect small payments and she will just have to pay it off until the day she dies. My heart absolutely broke when I heard this.
I have asked for a review of the phone call when he filled out his application, we will be confirming how and when this dosage changed, we will be talking to lawyers, we have started the appeal process, and have talked to multiple news agencies to spread the word about the fundraiser, but also want to talk about how fast you can be left alone struggling and how fast insurance can deny a claim over the tiniest technicality. Please always double and triple check your answers. Ask the questions when travelling. We wouldn’t ever want anyone to have to go through what we’ve just been through this past four weeks.
Thank you for taking the time to read our story, donate, send warm wishes, or share. We appreciate it all ❤️ We hope that one day my grandpa Louis can continue with his passion for gardening and wood working, and that one day this will all just be a horrible memory
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