GRANITE CITY, Ill. — Tina Aldridge went to the hospital in late April thinking it would be a routine trip to the doctor, but she left with more questions than answers.
“I just felt a little bit of a twinge,” said Tina Aldridge. “I thought it was probably a hernia.”
Two days later, she was in so much pain she went back to the emergency room at Gateway Regional Medical Center for a CT scan.
“It alerted everybody to the real problem that I was having which was ovarian cancer,” Aldridge said. “It’s progressed very far, very fast.”
“They diagnosed her with stage 4 cancer,” said her husband Frank Aldridge.
That kicked off a quest for treatment that took her from the Metro East to multiple hospitals in St. Louis, where she keeps getting the same answer.
"She can't get into the doctors,” Frank said.
"I feel like I'm being thrown away or let slide through the cracks,” Tina said. “It's not a good feeling to not be able to find help whenever you really, really need it."
The issue comes down to Aldridge's insurance, Ambetter, which was purchased through the Illinois marketplace.
"We've been calling all of these numbers,” said Tina Aldridge. “Nobody will accept the insurance."
Though the company's online portal shows a number of primary care providers in the St. Louis area, it only includes one oncologist.
"I cannot find a doctor on their list on the website that will accept me,” said Tina Aldridge. “The people who were in the customer service department at the insurance company on the back of the card weren't able to give me any help. "
"They want us to go, instead of going across the river to St. Louis, they want us to go to Chicago for everything,” said Frank Aldridge.
According to Geoffrey Oliver from Legal Services of Eastern Missouri, stories like this are all too common with marketplace insurance.
"Sometimes a provider will say yes they take AETNA but they don't take marketplace AETNA,” said Geoffrey Oliver.
"You think that you're covered because you're paying that dividend out,” said Frank Aldridge. “We never missed them, but then you try to use it and it's no good."
However, Oliver said buying marketplace insurance may provide a silver lining.
"She's eligible for a special enrollment period,” said Oliver. “She could actually change plans to find one that has a better network for her."
"She doesn't have time to wait,” said Frank.
"I'm kind of scared,” said Tina.
For more information on how to find local insurance help in Illinois and Missouri, click here.
For more information about special enrollment periods on the insurance marketplace, click here.
At KSDK we’re focused on you, and the stories you ask us to cover. If there’s an issue you would like Holden to look into, or a story you would like to share, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.