BUSINESS
03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Widow Stuck With Bill After Insurer Approved Husband's Treatment

As part of its Bearing Witness 2.0 project, the Huffington Post is rounding up a few of the best local stories of the day.

Fanny Gonzalez's husband died in May after a five-month battle with stomach cancer, and now she's stuck with the bill, reports the Chicago Tribune's Jon Yates. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois approved the treatment and then refused to pay, leaving Gonzalez with a $161,601 bill.

Blue Cross called the drug used "experimental" for her husband's type of cancer. Now Gonzalez is working with the Cancer Treatment Centers of America for help with her debt.

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In 2006, trucker Kenny Whitey fell 18 feet from the roof of his truck and broke almost every bone in his face. His serious head trauma left him unable to walk or talk. He breathes and eats through a tube, and needs nursing care around the clock. But now the company handling his workers' compensation is going bankrupt, reports Brandee A Thomas for the Gainesville, GA, Times, and the Whitey family does not know where to turn.

The insurance company has directed Whitey's attorney to his former employer, but the employer has stated that the medical bills -- $47,000 per month -- would bankrupt the company. "Basically, this leaves [the family] in the cold," said the attorney. "Their only recourse at this point for their immediate future is to look for help through public assistance programs." Unfortunately, because Whitey receives a disability check and his wife works, they likely make too much to qualify for public aid but too little to pay for the care themselves.

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John Goucher, 34, would have died after his heart attack were it not for paramedics. "I died twice in the ambulance," he told the Pocono Record's Beth Brelje. "They shocked me twice." But Goucher is uninsured, and after he and his wife, Aise, were both laid off in 2007, they have been supporting themselves and their two children working part-time.

The Grouchers have been borrowing money from family to pay medical bills. They've had no success selling their house. This week they found a foreclosure notice on their front door.. "We're losing everything," said Aise. "We're going to lose our house. We have to choose between electric bills and the phone. We're fighting to keep the car. We can't pay the bills every month."

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Robert Stecker, of McCook, Neb., is fighting with an insurance company after being blinded by cancer and then left with $70,000 in medical debt, reports Mike McKnight of local WOWT. Stecker claims that representatives from World Insurance assured him his radiation treatments would be paid for, but because the process was outpatient, now they are refusing to pay. "This is a shell game and every time we lift up a shell, they move to another spot," he said.

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The small town of Owatonna, Minn., has been losing inhabitants as well as jobs in the recession, reports Donny Rowles of local ABC affiliate KAAL. Hundreds of continued layoffs and lack of reliable work has sent many residents packing up to the Twin Cities, where opportunities are more plentiful. "More people are heading to the metro area for the positions," said Brian Coleman, the manager of the Workforce Development Center.


HuffPost readers: Seen a compelling local story? Have a neighbor going to bizarre lengths to get through the recession? Tell us about it! Email jmhattem@gmail.com.