Avera McKennan patient Tracy Warkenthien talks with Claims Assistance Counselor Dee DiMemmo.
If you are fighting cancer, chances are you are in the fight of your life. As if that weren't bad enough, the medical bills and insurance claims can be overwhelming. The Claims Assistance Program at Avera McKennan helps take away at least one worry for patients who could use one less on their plate.
Tracy Warkenthien from Sioux Falls has had a hard year, to say the least. She was diagnosed with Stage 2 Breast Cancer in August of 2008. Her treatment plan has included a bilateral mastectomy, 16 rounds of chemo therapy, radiation therapy and is currently going through her last round of chemo and plans to have a hysterectomy at the end of the year. It's been a year that has taken every ounce of energy she could muster. The last thing she wanted to do is spend hours filing insurance claims. Luckily, she didn't have to.
Tracy says, "It's been a huge relief. Huge."
Avera McKennan offers its Claims Assistance Program. For a one time fee per year, Dee DiMemmo and her co-workers will take care of all the paper work associated with a long hospital stay or chronic conditions like battling cancer.
Dee DiMemmo says, "We match up what the insurance is supposed to be paying, process claims and if there is a balance out we set up the payment plans. Basically, we are here to help them focus on healing and not worry about financial aspect."
Tracy says, "I basically don't open any of my medical bills, I mail them all to Dee or drop them off when I'm on campus. She goes through them, tells me what I owe sets up payment plans for me. If I have questions about the insurance company, I ask Dee and she takes care of everything for me."
At a time when Tracy is fighting for her life she says she is so grateful she didn't have to fight to get through a mound of bills. She's comforted that Dee deals with all of those details.
Tracy smiles and says, "It is worth every penny."
Besides helping patients with chronic conditions, the Claims Assistance Program counselors also work with a lot of elderly patients who may need help with their MediCare claims.