Do you know the story of Kyler Van Nocker? Kyler was five-years-old, still three months from his sixth birthday, when he died over this past weekend. Kyler was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer — neuroblastoma — when he was only two years old. Successful treatment put Kyler’s cancer into remission in 2007. Kyler spent a full year in remission from the cancer. But it came back in 2008.
Kyler’s insurance company, Health America, a subsidiary of insurance giant Coventry Health Care refused to pay for the life saving treatments recommended by Kyler’s doctors – treatment that would prolong Kyler’s short life. Kyler’s parents sued in an attempt to shame and force the insurance company into honoring its agreement and provide the health care prescribed by Kyler’s doctors. Health American and Coventry continued to refuse.
Thankfully, Kyler received his treatment. Not from the health insurance company that had so eagerly cashed the premium checks, but from the generosity of Kyler’s doctors, his hospital and the taxpayers of New Jersey through the state’s Medicaid program. Even though Kyler had health insurance, his parents were left bankrupt in their fight to save his life.
The truth is to know Kyler is to love Kyler. He was only here for five brief years but in that time he taught us more about life than we could have ever hoped for.
While battling cancer he would comfort his parents letting them know "its ok" as he held their hands. His bullheaded will was matched only by the heart of a lion. He was brave and kind, strong and gentle, stubborn and understanding. While learning the alphabet, he would teach the world about the value of life. He was a brother, a son, a ladies man, a friend… in truth there is but one word to describe him, an anybody who knows this word understands… he was "Kyler."
It shames me that this child and his family could be treated so harshly by the insurance company that promised to protect them. How many Kylers are there in this country? Why do we continue to let insurance companies dictate health care treatment that protects their bottom line over the life of a child?
- Think Progress [February 2010]
- CBS 3 [November 2009]
- MSNBC [September 8, 2010]
- MSNBC: Countdown [September 7, 2010]
(c) Copyright 2010 Brett A. Emison
Brett Emison is currently a partner at Langdon & Emison, a firm dedicated to helping injured victims across the country from their primary office near Kansas City. Mainly focusing on catastrophic injury and death cases as well as complex mass tort and dangerous drug cases, Mr. Emison often deals with automotive defects, automobile crashes, railroad crossing accidents (train accidents), trucking accidents, dangerous and defective drugs, defective medical devices.