Anthem clerical error adds anxiety to woman's breast cancer fight

Did Anthem ever apologize?

"No, they never apologized."

Kristin Binns, an Anthem spokeswoman, acknowledged that the situation resulted from "an error on our part." She said Walton-Teter's account was not properly credited with a monthly payment.

"When we realized the error, her payment was properly credited and no lapse in coverage occurred," Binns said.

She added that, according to Anthem's records, Walton-Teter has never had a claim rejected by the insurance company.

Perhaps, as Anthem says, this was just a clerical error. Stuff happens.

But Walton-Teter thinks the timing was strange. All was well with her coverage until she was diagnosed with cancer. Then, suddenly, Anthem had a problem with her payments and immediately canceled her policy.

"Wouldn't you be suspicious?" Walton-Teter asked.

I think anyone in her position would be.

Even if we give Anthem the benefit of the doubt, what happened to Walton-Teter illustrates how easily the insurance safeguards we take for granted can vanish. Our healthcare system offers precious few guarantees.

No matter who wins Tuesday's presidential election, there's still much work to be done in protecting those who have insurance, not to mention extending coverage to the 50 million who go without.

I know this much: Walton-Teter won't be the last person to face the experience of losing coverage when she instead needs the healthcare system to be there for her.

And that's just cruel.

David Lazarus' column runs Tuesdays and Fridays. He also can be seen daily on KTLA-TV Channel 5 and followed on Twitter @Davidlaz. Send tips or feedback to david.lazarus@latimes.com.

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