Health Link insurance canceling coverage over holiday season

By Ryne Turke on December 24, 2015 at 11:44am

Thousands of Illinois residents covered through Health Link insurance are receiving some tough news during the holiday season.

Steven Whitton, a Jacksonville resident who works in the internet department for Illinois Electric, reached out to WLDS/WEAI News this week to share the struggles he and his family are currently facing.

In 2004, Whitton was diagnosed with breast cancer and went through a year of treatment. Nearly a decade after going through treatment, the cancer returned.

Whitton recently started receiving a new round of treatment through a trial program at Missouri Baptist. Whitton undergoes additional treatment at Simmons Cancer Institute in Springfield.

But on Wednesday afternoon, Whitton received a tragic phone call.

“They informed me my treatments that were scheduled for January 11th were canceled. The lady that called me from the infusion lab said that she was being forced to call people who had Health Link through the state of Illinois insurance. She said they were canceling all their treatments, because of the fact that the state of Illinois insurance is not paying, and hasn’t paid for months. Simmons Cancer was not going to assume any more debt until payments start to be received.”

Whitton says he feared the lack of a state budget would lead to this outcome eventually.

Whitton says there is a possibility Passavant Area Hospital in Jacksonville could lend a helping hand.

“Passavant does have an infusion lab. Somebody from Simmons comes over and mans the infusion lab. They were going to see if it was possible that Passavant would still accept Health Link insurance. I will not know until January whether or not they will be accepting that. How long does it take after that until Passavant ends up closing Health Link insurance.”

Whitton says his body is responding positively to the treatment at this point.

“I’ve come a long way on my fight. The cancer seems to be turning around now. If you take some of the treatments away it could go back the other way very quickly.”

Whitton’s cancer has spread to his bones. The drug he is taking, olarpib, is being supplied through the trial program and will not be impacted by Health Link’s recent announcement.