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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 11:49 pm •  Published: March 7, 2013
/articleid/3762559/1/pictures/1971602">Photo - Lorelei Decker scrolls through messages of support on her Twitter account. Photos by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman
Lorelei Decker scrolls through messages of support on her Twitter account. Photos by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman

But Lorelei Decker’s cancer has been resistant to chemotherapy and other treatments, and she has yet to go into remission, she said. She has a tumor across the middle of her chest.

Doctors at MD Anderson, a premier cancer center in Houston, recommended she undergo an allogeneic stem cell transplant. The transplant would use stem cells from her older sister to replace Decker’s immune system.

“If I don’t receive this treatment, I will die — that’s the bottom line,” Lorelei Decker said. “If I don’t receive this treatment, cancer will kill me.”

Blue Cross Blue Shield originally denied the coverage, citing that it wasn’t “medically necessary,” she said.

Lorelei Decker attributes much of the reason that the insurance company changed its mind to the hundreds of tweets and Facebook posts that people from Oklahoma and several other states made.

Wednesday, she had more than 1,900 followers and had gained about 200 Twitter followers over 24 hours.

“Typically people don’t fight on social media or don’t publicize the issues that they’re having issues with insurance coverage, and it’s just up to them to call and reapply or mail it in, and it’s all on them,” she said. “But when there is a level of publicity there, there’s a level of urgency to defuse the situation, and so you’re kind of put on the front burner, finally.”

Even more expense

Even though Lorelei Decker will likely get the treatment, the denial-approval scenario still comes with a cost. The family had booked its hotel rooms, flight and rental cars, but canceled all arrangements after the news of the denial.

A trip that would have cost about $1,000 will now cost them about $3,000. For some, this might not seem like a big jump. But Andrea Decker lost her job as she stayed home to help Lorelei with her cancer, the family has a son in Afghanistan and another daughter in college.

“It was very painful to have that happen — plus we still have to pay medical bills,” Andrea Decker said.

Lorelei Decker said it’s frustrating to know that she isn’t the only one who has had to fight for insurance coverage. Without her family’s support, she said she wouldn’t know what to do.

She said even though her fight might be over, she wants to spread awareness about others with similar battles.

“I’m fortunate to have parents and a community who loves me so much that they are willing to fight for me, and they know their voice is powerful because human life is valuable, and they’re willing to fight for that,” she said.

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