STATEN ISLAND, NY (PIX11) — Staten Island senior Magdy Hanna is $25,000 in medical debt after receiving dental implants that he thought would be covered by his health insurance plan.
In an exclusive interview with PIX11 News, Hanna expressed his frustration. “I’m a human being, and what the insurance is doing to me makes me feel like nothing,” Hanna said.
For years Hanna thought he wouldn’t be able to afford the dental implants, until 2019, when he signed up for a UnitedHealthcare Dual Complete Special Needs Plan.
Hanna said he was told the plan would cover his dental implants. “A lady from the insurance company called me. She said ‘Magdy, you’re approved,’” Hanna said.
Hanna shared a copy of the approval letter he later received from UnitedHealthcare with PIX11 News. He began the extensive dental implant process with a Brooklyn dentist when Hanna says the dentist shared some unexpected news.
“He said the insurance is not going to pay,” Hanna recalled. “I really didn’t know what to do.”
At that point Hanna made the decision to pay the dentist for his implants. Hanna told PIX11 he believed his insurance company would reimburse him based on his previous approval letter.
To pay the dentist, Hanna says he borrowed $25,000 from people he knows.
After two years and multiple calls to UnitedHealthcare, Hanna reached out to The Legal Aid Society for help. He’s now working with attorney Rebecca Novick, director of The Legal Aid Society’s Health Law Unit.
“It’s been extraordinarily stressful for him,” Novick told PIX11 News. Novick explained that Hanna joined a health care plan designed for people who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid. “Nobody told him that, in fact, there was a limit to his Medicare benefits, and nobody explained to him that he would have needed to be at a provider who was going to also seek services from Medicaid.”
After The Legal Aid Society took on Hanna’s case, Novick says UnitedHealthcare sent Hanna a $2,000 check, but they are pushing for UnitedHealthcare to reimburse Hanna for all the money he paid the dentist.
A UnitedHealthcare representative told PIX11 News, “We’re aware of this matter and actively working with both the member and the Department of Health to come to a resolution.”
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