Bartow, Florida – Caitlin White’s mother was between crying and celebrating. Her voice quivered on the phone as she shared the news everyone was waiting for, “They’re going to cover her surgery!” Sheila Jackson exclaimed. It was a prayer answered.
A Bartow teenager suffering from a rare brain disorder will now get the operation she needs, thanks to her insurance carrier Aetna and Tampa General Hospital.
This news came late Thursday afternoon from Aetna media spokesperson, Cynthia Michener. Caitlin was originally told she did not have enough coverage to pay for a $113,000 brain surgery, to stop excruciating headaches and dangerous fainting spells from Chiari Malformation, a condition from which she suffers.
After an extensive investigation this week by Tampa Bay’s 10 News, Aetna is now changing its tune and partnering with Tampa General Hospital to cover one hundred percent of the costs.
“We can’t believe it,” Jackson told reporter Melanie Brooks on the phone after she found out.. “We have been crying and running around. It’s amazing. Thank you!”
Aetna, along with Tampa General Hospital, reviewed Caitlin’s case over the course of four days and decided to pay for the surgery, scheduled for Monday, July 21st.
Prior to this, there were questions with Caitlin’s insurance, whether or not it would pay for a surgery this expensive and extensive. Jackson, Caitlin’s mother, says the original surgery was scheduled a few months ago, within a week of Mother’s Day, and that the claim came in too late at Lakeland Regional Medical Center. Her surgery was denied, and the operating room went to someone else.
Aetna’s media spokesperson says this was not correct and assures us that the surgery did not need preauthorization.
The second time Caitlin was scheduled for surgery, it was at Tampa General Hospital, but she was told her coverage would not pay for the surgery. The family scrambled for an attorney and contacted Tampa Bay’s 10 News.
An investigation was launched, and now, Caitlin will have her operation on Monday.
We will let you know how everything goes after Monday's surgery.
To read Melanie's first story, click here.
Melanie Brooks, Tampa Bay's 10News