What happened to this woman is tragic on its face, but the ridiculous insurance subplot is just infuriating and highlights the sheer stupidity that is our healthcare policy in this country.
As Jessica Cantrell fights to recover from traumatic brain injuries she sustained in a motorcycle accident, her family has been fighting [Southern Illinois University] insurance administrators to pay for her care.That’s just crazy. It shouldn’t be that hard to get coverage for your medical bills while you are in a coma. You should be using the services of doctors not lawyers. What a wasteful and unnecessarily expensive “system” we have.
Since the Aug. 23 accident, Cantrell has been in a coma and unable to attend class. In accordance with university policy, her insurance coverage stopped the last day she attended classes.
University insurance administrator Jim Hunsaker confirmed the policy to Cantrell's brother, Jonathan, in an e-mail dated Sept. 15.
"Basically, if you can come back, you're covered," Jonathan Cantrell said. "If a student gets hurt and misses classes, even if they paid the university, they withdraw the student and say their insurance ended."
Sievers said interim Chancellor Sam Goldman met with other university administrators Tuesday to discuss reinstating Cantrell, a senior from Galatia studying French and Spanish.
A possible solution could allow Cantrell to use the $250,000 policy if she pays her tuition and fees, Sievers said.
Jonathan Cantrell said his family is willing to pay the semester's tuition and fees if the university will allow her to use her insurance coverage.
"It's worth paying $7,000 for $250,000 of coverage," he said. "After hearing it was possible, I was excited, but her bills are higher than the insurance money."
The medical bills she has already accumulated would probably exhaust the insurance policy of Lawrence Thompson, the driver of the pick-up truck that struck Cantrell on the motorcycle, Jonathan Cantrell said. It could also exhaust the university policy,
"There may be nothing left for her care in the future," he said.
Although Jessica Cantrell served in the Army, her brother said she was denied veterans' healthcare benefits because she was not treated at a military facility.
Sievers said insurance benefits from the university could affect her ability to qualify for Medicaid or other assistance.
"We've learned that there could be other options that would be more in Jessica's best interest," Sievers said. "It could be that they do reinstate her as a student, but it's not a done deal."
Jessica Cantrell remains in intensive care at St. Louis University Hospital in St. Louis following emergency surgery to remove a portion of her brain and skull, Jonathan Cantrell said.