Accessing Life-Saving Care with Humana

Humana member Steve Magnuson

When Steve Magnuson signed up for Humana health insurance, he didn’t think he’d need it. At 65 years old, says Steve, “I was healthy as a horse.” Still, he became a Humana member, signing up for a plan that comes with a $0 monthly premium.

Recalls Steve, “I figured ‘Well if it’s not going to cost me anything, why not have it in case of emergencies or a catastrophic moment or something like that.’ Not that I had anticipated or planned on ever having that in my lifetime — nobody does.”

Steve was diagnosed with end-stage liver disease in 2014, years after becoming a Humana member. His doctor advised him to stop drinking alcohol immediately, warning him that further drinking — something his liver could no longer handle — might kill him. Steve understood things were serious and immediately quit consuming alcohol. “I have not had a drop since then.”

What followed his diagnosis was a long road to recovery, which he traveled with Humana’s support.

“I was referred to a gastroenterologist who ran more tests, and the main symptom I had was bloating. The other symptom was a lack of energy. I used to be a very ambitious fellow, even at 65,” he recalls. Steve remembers the disease making him “almost inactive,” which made managing his own healthcare tremendously difficult. To further complicate things, Steve had to have procedures performed every 2–3 weeks to reduce the bloating from fluid build-up in his stomach.

Fortunately, Steve’s Humana care manager, Michelle, was there to help Steve get the care he needed.

“Right about this time, the angel — and I’m talking about Michelle — she called me totally out of the blue and said, ‘Hi I’m Michelle, and I am assigned to you to help you with anything you may need help with, and I’m from Humana.’” Michelle and Steve worked together to get Steve the medical procedures and medications he needed. “Humana authorized referrals; Humana authorized the visits; and they also authorized the procedures. This was all pretty transparent to me. I didn’t have to worry too much about this.”

Because of his low energy levels, Steve would also contact Michelle if he noticed that the hospital had accidentally billed something incorrectly, so they could handle the issue together. “[Michelle] got the issue resolved. She made some calls to Humana and made some calls to the hospital, and they fixed the code and removed the inappropriate deductible. She helped fix the problem. At that point in time, that was almost an insurmountable thing for me, because I was barely existing.”

Despite the treatments he was receiving, Steve’s health began to decline further. Michelle asked if Steve had looked into getting a liver transplant. He hadn’t.

“She put me in touch with a transplant contact, Tania, who reviewed my case and, based upon the doctor’s information and the lab reports, thought: ‘Wow, this guy needs a liver.’” If Michelle hadn’t mentioned it, Steve might never have known about a liver transplant possibility.

Steve is still amazed that, at his age, he qualified for a liver transplant. But after weeks of tests, his doctor at the Mayo Clinic assured him he was an excellent candidate for a new liver. Steve kept an overnight bag next to his front door, waiting for the call when he would need to head to the hospital within four hours if a viable liver became available.

The first three calls he received resulted in false alarms. But on the fourth call, he arrived at the Mayo Clinic and not one, but two livers were available to him. Says Steve, “At that point, it’s nothing but good news. I totally left it up to them. I had no decision to make here. They’re the ones that look at the liver and determine what’s best. So needless to say, they took care of me.”

Steve’s liver transplant was a success, and he recovered from the surgery with remarkable speed. “There are so many miracles that happened here,” he says.

“Think about it, the only thing that I did was get the disease. That’s all I did. Everything else that happened was totally out of my hands — and guided by a higher power, AA, the graciousness of Humana, and the doctors, and Mayo clinic, and the donor. Man, think about that.”

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