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An Oklahoma City family's fight over insurance heads to Twitter

Lorelei Decker, an 18-year-old Oklahoma City resident, and her family started a Twitter campaign to fight Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma's decision to deny a cancer therapy that the family says would save Decker's life.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Modified: March 6, 2013 at 9:35 pm •  Published: March 7, 2013

It started with a 131-character tweet sent Tuesday afternoon.

“All hell's about to break loose. BCBS DENIED Lorelei's transplant. No words for how angry I am. I guess it's cheaper to let her die,” Andrea Decker said via Twitter.

Decker's frustrated tweet came after she and her family learned that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma had denied her daughter a cancer therapy that they say would save her life.

The family began a Twitter campaign using the hashtag #ApproveLorelei. Several Oklahoma residents sent hundreds of tweets, using the hashtag to express their feelings regarding the Oklahoma insurance company's decision.

And Wednesday afternoon, the Deckers found out Blue Cross Blue Shield had changed its decision and was told the cancer treatment was approved.

Lorelei Decker said she will not stop with her own fight and is calling for change.

“They can't just give people the runaround because the people they're giving the runaround are so tired of fighting cancer and so tired that they just feel defeated and quit,” Lorelei Decker said. “And that's why this is never public — because it is so hard to fight cancer that it's too hard to fight insurance, too.”

Hilarie Houghton, a Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma spokeswoman, said she could not comment on a specific case, citing state and federal privacy laws concerning medical records.

“We have an established medical review process to ensure that our members receive appropriate, necessary and effective care,” Houghton said in a statement. “In general, the process may include predetermination/preauthorization, an initial review policy determination by an internal medical doctor, a peer-to-peer review (a discussion between the member's doctor and a Blue Cross doctor to exchange pertinent information) and an appeals process that offers a clinical review by a specialty doctor, often a third party.”

Houghton said Blue Cross Blue Shield respects the roles of its members and their doctors but must “adhere to the plan certificates and regulatory guidelines that direct us regarding coverage decisions, determining what therapies are of proven efficacy, and evaluation of unusual therapies.”

About her cancer

Lorelei Decker, an 18-year-old Oklahoma City resident, was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma during the second semester of her senior year at Putnam City North High School, when she was 17.

Hodgkin lymphoma is a cancer of lymph tissue found in the lymph nodes, spleen, liver, bone marrow and other sites, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Most people diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma are treated successfully through treatment. The five-year relative survival rate for patients with that type of cancer has increased dramatically from 40 percent in whites from 1960 to 1963 to 86.3 percent for all races from 2001 to 2007, according to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

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by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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