Lincoln COVID-19 survivor speaks on financial burdens after hospital stay
Health insurance companies can only cover so much in this pandemic and survivors like one Lincoln man have found a way to jump a financial hurdle after surviving COVID-19.
LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — Health insurance companies can only cover so much in this pandemic and survivors like one Lincoln man have found a way to jump a financial hurdle after surviving COVID-19.
Gary West’s goal is to make at least one person or tenant at his apartment smile as he tends to a complex in Lincoln.
“If you have a strong mind, you could come through anything. I found that out,” said West.
But COVID-19 almost stole that from him.
After staying over 100 days in the hospital and enduring rehab, the bills he said were astronomical, adding up to over $250,000.
Medicare covered 80 percent but west still needed help.
“The bills just blew my mind. You know, and, but I’ve had two programs that offered me assistance to help with my bills,” said West.
His daughter helped him find assistance as well.
“It was coming down to my dad was gonna take the medication or not, and you know if he stopped taking the medication, his health would deteriorate which, you know, I don’t want that to happen,” said Sara Brown. “So, it’s just hard because they’re already going through the illness and trying to recover. Then they have to worry about the financial aspect of it and you know it was it’s just really hard.”
Sara says the bills depleted West’s savings and for a while, he stopped taking his medication because it was so expensive.
“That inhaler each month is over $130,” said Brown. “So that’s just one medication so it’s tough, but you know at one point he was telling me he wasn’t going to take the medication anymore because he couldn’t afford it. And I said well I need you here with me so please take the medication and, you know we’ll find a way to get it covered.”
She now buys groceries for her father to help ends meet and she says getting that extra help wasn’t easy.
“We didn’t hear anything for a couple of months and so it’s frustrating because you know they say they’re gonna call you back and they don’t call you back. I try to do a lot of that for my dad because he gets really frustrated because of the poor customer service that sometimes happens.”
They eventually received assistance and west continues to stay positive. He hopes to encourage others to push through.
“But I like to just push myself to try to make my lungs get stronger and I just would like people to know that you know if they’re in my situation, don’t give up,” said West.
West and his daughter encourage others to research what is available to help with your bills and again, don’t give up.