SAN ANTONIO – A San Antonio cancer patient's treatment is put on hold after getting repeatedly rejected by his insurance company for the drug his doctor prescribed.
Fred Garza was diagnosed with kidney cancer back in April.
"Of course that was an emotional setback because no one ever wants to hear they have cancer," Garza said.
Soon after, Garza's doctor, Dr. Stephen C. Cohen, M.D., Medical Oncology, said he could treat the disease with two types of drugs.
However, Humana, Garza's insurance provider, denied the second drug.
"I've been trying for four months to get a drug called Avastin," Dr. Cohen said. "Which is a drug approved for kidney cancer to be added to other drugs, which is currently the treatment of choice for patients with kidney cancer."
"It's like an emotional roller coaster," Garza said.
Humana has denied three requests.
In one letter, Humana called the drug Avastin combined with another drug "experimental" and not covered for that purpose.
However, Dr. Cohen said he treats another patient, with the same diagnosis and same insurance, Humana, approved the drug, Avastin.
The only difference that patient falls under Humana "Medicare."
"It's outrageous," said Garza. "It makes no sense at all that I would treat two patients with the same disease in a different way just because the insurance company tells me so."
As Garza waits for treatment Dr. Cohen said the cancer is winning the fight for now.
"I think it's disheartening that an insurance company is so greedy that they can't provide this person with state of the art therapy," Dr. Cohen said.
"I know that the good Lord is going to test those decision-makers at Humana so, they can make the right decision so I can continue to fight this disease like I need to," Garza said.
Humana released a statement on Monday:
"Due to federal privacy laws, Humana cannot comment on individual health-plan members. We work directly with our members to resolve any issues."
However, a spokesperson for the company, Genentech, that manufactures and distributes Avastin, said the drug is currently approved for metastatic kidney cancer.