Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Is $2 million paid to a doctor in Arkansas really making any difference in the length of Jalal Afshar's life? I suspect not.

Two months ago I wrote about this case here. I am not at all a fan of Kaiser Permanente, and I know that Kaiser turns a profit by failing to provide life-saving treatments. It achieves its billions of yearly profit through "treatment guidelines" that cause practitioners to fail to appropriately diagnose and treat illnesses.

But I am suspicious of this particular case. I suspect that some charlatan in Arkansas offered hope to Mr. Afshar in exchange for $2 million dollars.

I did a little research and found this information on the American Cancer Society website:

"Infection with HIV is the only clear-cut risk factor for CD. Castleman disease is much more common in people with this infection, particularly in those who have developed the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)...The cause of Castleman disease (CD) is not known for sure, but doctors suspect it is related to problems with the way a person's immune system is working...A virus seems to be involved in at least some cases of CD. Human herpes virus type 8(HHV-8) is found in the lymph node B cells of many people who are HIV-positive and have multicentric CD. This virus is also known as Kaposi sarcoma-related herpes virus(KSHV) because it has also been found in people with Kaposi sarcoma (a rare type of cancer). In fact, some people with CD also have Kaposi sarcoma."

I suspect that Mr. Afshar will live exactly as long with his $2 million Arkansas treatment as he would have lived without it.

Man Files $2M Lawsuit, Says Kaiser Refused To Cover Life-Saving Treatment
May 13, 2013

A Pasadena man is suing Kaiser Permanente for $2 million alleging breach of contract and unfair business practices after he says they gave up on him and refused to provide or cover the cost of life-saving care.

Kaiser doctors diagnosed 58-year-old Jalal Afshar with Castleman disease, a rare and often deadly disease that targets the lymph nodes.

...A former Kaiser employee, Afshar said the non-profit medical group initially granted his request to see an out-of-network specialist in Arkansas.

“It was like, you know, finding your life again,” he said.

The lawsuit alleges that Kaiser ultimately declined to pay for his care, claiming that services were available within his existing plan to treat the disease.

“Kaiser, in bad faith, unreasonably denied medical care that Jalal needed to save his life,” said his attorney, Scott Glovsky.

Afshar continued his treatment out-of-network. Six months later, he is on the way to recovery, but owes $2 million in health care costs.

“He would be dead for sure because they had given up on him,” said his wife, Maryam.

[Maura Larkins comment: I have not seen any evidence that Mr. Afshar was given a prognosis of six months to live. Kaiser simply said it didn't have a treatment to offer him. This doesn't mean he was expected to die right away. It only means that Kaiser was not planning to interfere with the course of nature.]

“We should care about people more about their lives than making money,” said Afshar.

“When I was there, they were clearing a couple of billion dollars of pure profit every quarter,” he said.

Kaiser declined an interview, but released a statement Monday.

The statement reads in part:

“We dispute the allegations included in the lawsuit…We did not give up on our member. Respecting patient privacy, we cannot provide details about the treatment options which were made available and being pursued…We will fully address the lawsuit in the proper judicial forum.”

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