Gruler Nation Podcast

Episode #86: Romy Wightman, Founder of Wight Horse

January 31, 2020 Robert F. Gruler Jr., Esq.
Gruler Nation Podcast
Episode #86: Romy Wightman, Founder of Wight Horse
Chapters
Gruler Nation Podcast
Episode #86: Romy Wightman, Founder of Wight Horse
Jan 31, 2020
Robert F. Gruler Jr., Esq.

Romy Wightman is the founder of Wight Horse, a non- profit focused on helping individuals manage their medical debt. Romy has always been very familiar with how medical insurance works due to her career for 25 years in Employee Benefits. Then, her two worlds collided and Romy experienced the other side of the industry when she was diagnosed with colon cancer. 

 

Romy's illness caused financial hardship, large medical debt, and even forced her and her family to sell their home and downsize in order to even try to climb out of a mountain of debt. Romy had a great job, good insurance, and had a savings in place. Her and her family had done everything right, but the medical bills kept coming and did not stop. Wight Horse was founded in order to provide support to others in medical debt to relieve some of the burden and help lower the bills.     

 

To learn more about Wight Horse and how you can help follow this link to their website at wighthorse.org, shoot them at email at info@wighthorse.com, or just give them a call at 602-809-8505 

 

Please Like, Subscribe, and Comment below! 

 

#wighthorse #medicaldebt #healthinsurance #medicalexpenses #chronicillnesses #medicaltreatment #insurance #healthcare #financialcrisis #employeebenefits #financialhardship #debt #podcast #InspirationwithGrulerNation #inspire #gruler #inspiration #GrulerNation #GrulerNationPodcast #gnp #arizonapodcast #scottsdale #yesphx #phx  

 

The Gruler Nation Podcast is a show that focuses on conversations with interesting "Level 10" people passionate about changing the world with their work, relationships and ideas. The show is hosted by Robert Gruler, an attorney and founding partner of the R&R Law Group, a criminal defense law firm based in Scottsdale, Arizona focused on helping good people charged with crimes move forward with their lives.   

 

Interested in being on the show or have a guest recommendation? Email Robert directly at robert@rrlawaz.com or visit www.robgruler.com for more information.  

 

Support the show (https://www.ericshouse.org/donate/)

Show Notes Transcript

Romy Wightman is the founder of Wight Horse, a non- profit focused on helping individuals manage their medical debt. Romy has always been very familiar with how medical insurance works due to her career for 25 years in Employee Benefits. Then, her two worlds collided and Romy experienced the other side of the industry when she was diagnosed with colon cancer. 

 

Romy's illness caused financial hardship, large medical debt, and even forced her and her family to sell their home and downsize in order to even try to climb out of a mountain of debt. Romy had a great job, good insurance, and had a savings in place. Her and her family had done everything right, but the medical bills kept coming and did not stop. Wight Horse was founded in order to provide support to others in medical debt to relieve some of the burden and help lower the bills.     

 

To learn more about Wight Horse and how you can help follow this link to their website at wighthorse.org, shoot them at email at info@wighthorse.com, or just give them a call at 602-809-8505 

 

Please Like, Subscribe, and Comment below! 

 

#wighthorse #medicaldebt #healthinsurance #medicalexpenses #chronicillnesses #medicaltreatment #insurance #healthcare #financialcrisis #employeebenefits #financialhardship #debt #podcast #InspirationwithGrulerNation #inspire #gruler #inspiration #GrulerNation #GrulerNationPodcast #gnp #arizonapodcast #scottsdale #yesphx #phx  

 

The Gruler Nation Podcast is a show that focuses on conversations with interesting "Level 10" people passionate about changing the world with their work, relationships and ideas. The show is hosted by Robert Gruler, an attorney and founding partner of the R&R Law Group, a criminal defense law firm based in Scottsdale, Arizona focused on helping good people charged with crimes move forward with their lives.   

 

Interested in being on the show or have a guest recommendation? Email Robert directly at robert@rrlawaz.com or visit www.robgruler.com for more information.  

 

Support the show (https://www.ericshouse.org/donate/)

Speaker 1:

This is episode 86 of the Gruler nation podcast. My name is Robert Gruler, joined today by Romy Wightman who is the founder and the creator of wighthorse.org we're going to talk a lot about that. White horse.org is a organization that helps individuals manage their medical debt. They focus on individuals who are employed and have health insurance but still compile a large medical costs , big medical expenditures, typically due to things like chronic illness and from out of state and medical treatment. It's a very complicated issue. Something that Rami has a lot of experience in and we're going to dive into all of it, but first, let me welcome you to the show. Thanks for being here. Thanks Rob. It's good to be here. I'm excited to talk to you because healthcare is one of those things that is sort of never ending, right? I mean we think we, we , we just kind of went through this whole thing in 2008 where there was a battle back and forth between all of the different political parties and, and it got passed and we thought we solved it and now everybody has healthcare . But that's really not the case. And I know you've got a background in, in this area. So can you tell me just a little bit about that before we dive into your story? So what is your experience , uh , dealing with people and helping them get medical treatment? Medical coverage?

Speaker 2:

Absolutely. So my entire career has been in, in the employee benefits industry. So our firm has always helped employers get the best medical insurance for their employees, get the most competitive benefits for their employees, while also being really careful about making sure that their spend is competitive. And each year we're really trying to make sure that we're watching out for the dollars that are spent. So over the course of the 20 some years that I've been in this industry, we've seen huge changes. So 20 years ago, people probably had a deductible of $100, $200. They probably didn't pay anything or a very small amount out of their paycheck for their medical insurance. And when we were in that part of , um, our medical insurance history, nobody really cared about what the employee was spending because it was quite low. It wasn't sending anybody into bankruptcy or debt. Then we had the ACA, which attempted to get medical care for everybody. So essentially what happened was because the insurance companies had a lot of rules that they had to follow, it increased their costs, which then were passed on to employers. And our healthcare system is the only, it's the only product in our nation where you can't get a cost before you get treatment. So a patient is left going in for treatment, having no idea what their portion of that bill is going to be. So I don't know if you've ever had treatment for anything, and you said to the doctor, well, how much is this gonna cost me? And they look at you cross-eyed. Like , I don't know. So the deductibles have increased, the out-of-pocket maxes have increased because the employers have no other choice but to pass that additional burden to the employee. So in my industry, we're really focused on the employer and we're really focused on making sure that they can afford medical care for their employees and making sure that their increases are as low as possible. What we don't do is have a system to help employees with their share of the burden. And so what we've seen is, I think there was a statistic that I read a couple of weeks ago that 65% of newly diagnosed cancer patients go through all of their savings in the first year.

Speaker 1:

Wow. Yeah, that's, that's, that's, it's amazing. You know, this is one of those things where I feel like everybody has an opinion on it, but a lot of people don't really know what's kind of happening because there is a lot of sorta the waters are very murky. It's not very transparent. Like you said, you can go into your doctor and you really don't know kind of how it works. You just kind of know what you're used to doing. You go in, you see your doctor for 15 minutes, they write you some prescriptions and it just, you know, you go to the doc , you go to the Walgreens , your stuff filled, but you really don't know much about what that costs, what the visit costs or anything like that other than your deductibles. And I remember pretty dramatically, you know, thinking when I, the first time I signed up for the ACA, the affordable care act was I was starting to look at my deductibles and I was thinking, I don't, I don't spend this much in health care throughout the entire year, so I'll never hit that. I'll never hit that deductible. But then, like you said, there's the other people who go, you know , hit, they hit that deductible and then it just wipes them out completely. So from your perspective, your , your job is to [inaudible] the company that you're working with, right? You're, you're helping employee yours . Correct. And you saw this gap in helping employees or just, you know , regular day people , uh , address their healthcare costs and needs. And how did you, how did you experience this personally? I know we talked a little bit out , you know , off the air about it, but , um , I'd love to dive into that story because what you went through was, was difficult.

Speaker 2:

It was very difficult. So five years ago I was diagnosed with colon cancer and what was supposed to be one surgery and a one and done turned into five years of surgeries and chemo and treatment. And the course of my disease went very differently than originally predicted. But early on , um, it was discovered that I had a spread of the colon cancer to my abdominal. And traditionally chemo doesn't work really well in that area. So basically I was told that I had no options, that I was going to be on chemo for life and as long as the chemo worked, which wouldn't be forever , um, that was what my destiny was going to be. And so I left the appointment and kind of fell apart for a couple of days. And then I got a grip and started doing research and found that there were 10 centers in the country that specialized in a certain surgical procedure for this exact type of metastatic spread. So I was in a situation now where my primary caregivers were in San Diego and I was living in Phoenix. So in addition to the surgeries and the treatment, which I will mention my very first chemo treatment, I looked at the bill that came from the insurance company and it was $128,000 so I hit my out-of-pocket max on one chemo treatment, but the travel to San Diego, the hotels to put your family up while you're there for weeks getting care. And that particular surgery at the time, my insurance company was blue cross and they took a portion of that surgery and said it was experimental so it wasn't covered. And that was two days before the actual surgery. And so here I am, this is my, this is my shot at a cure, my shot at extending, you know, my life. And they say, well, your insurance company isn't going to pay for a portion of this. Do you agree to pay for it? Well, of course everybody says yes . Yes , you don't have a choice. So in my first year, I think I calculated it was about $20,000 out of pocket, and that was with decent insurance. So I did everything I was supposed to do. I had a savings fund for emergencies, I had insurance, I had all of the things that were told to have, and I was wiped out after that first year.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I mean, there's a lot there to dive into it . It might , my first thought was how problematic it is that you ask your, the first doctor that you saw, what can I do about this? And they said, no, that's it. Like you're done. So just deal with it. You're going to be on chemo. Right. Did you ever dive into that at all? I mean, why was the doctor not informed? Does the doc , you know about those other treatments, do they not care? Do you think that their hands are tied because they're not allowed to offer those alternatives because it's outside of what the insurance company allows? What's the disconnect that's happening right there? Can you speak to that?

Speaker 2:

Well, I can for my own opinion, not from, you know anything that's been proven, but my opinion from what I went through is that our doctors are overwhelmed. They can't possibly know of every treatment for every cancer, for every situation, and since the way that my disease progressed is not a typical progression of colon cancer. I think that my particular doctor just wasn't aware. I don't , I don't think that there was any other reason that he simply did not know that this procedure existed. And it was interesting because I needed to do chemo locally, so I stayed at that practice because I loved the nurses. I was comfortable, but I had an oncologist also in San Diego and he learned a ton from me. He was like, I am so happy that you've taught me something so that when the next patient comes in, I will know that there is a procedure and I can help somebody else. So I think that what I learned as a patient is you need second opinions and third opinions and fourth opinions there. For me, there was a colon cancer support group that I joined early on and I just started asking questions. And where I learned the most was from other patients and doctors. I mean they do the best they can, but somebody that has been through what you have been through knows so much more than a doctor.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. And that makes sense to me. It, it's still surprising to me. I mean, you know, had you not done this, your life would be very different. It would be very, very different. And so the fact that you took three , you went those extra steps and said, I'm going to be inquisitive about this, is you know, a blessing, a miracle in a lot of ways because I think a lot of people probably wouldn't, wouldn't do that. Or maybe maybe, maybe not to the extent that you did or if they did, they wouldn't have the resources to go and actually follow through. That's the scary part.

Speaker 2:

That's really the scary part because not everybody has the resources to be able to travel back and forth. And I think that there are a lot of people that say, I'm going to take my chances and obviously the doctor knows more than I do, so I'm going to follow, you know, what their recommendation is. And in my, in my case, that would have been a very bad,

Speaker 1:

yeah. And it wasn't like you went and , and you just put all this stuff on a , on a , you know, pulled it out of your trust fund. Right. I mean, what you had to go through in order to cover the costs . Can you tell us a little bit about [inaudible] ?

Speaker 2:

So in the first year we were able to manage it somewhat, you know? Okay. You figure an extra $20,000 of an expenditure is about 35,000 in income. Right ? Correct. Right . So neither me or my husband at the time were able to go to our employers and say, Hey, we need a $35,000 bump in salary. So we had to make adjustments. So in year at the end of year two going into year three we said, we're going to have to downsize our house. We, we, we cut wherever we could. And then we got to the point where we said, all right , now we're going to have to pull out the big guns and we need to sell our house and we need something that's going to be less expensive because now we know we have this extra expenditure every year. Because in my case, it wasn't going to go away. It wasn't like it was a one and done. I was going to continue to have treatment for the foreseeable future. That's where people really get into trouble. So you look at somebody that's diabetic or has heart disease or has cancer, any number of medical conditions that are going to be ongoing, you're never going to get out from under it.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and I, and I would imagine it's just the kind of compounds as, as you get older, you know, or , or as you know, medical conditions can, can complicate themselves and you know, treatments can kind of stack and as people get older, you know, the, the cost of medical care can, can continue to climb. We have a blower outside right now, which is great. So let's give it a quick minute and they'll just pass on by. Um, all right , so, so, so tell me a little bit more then . So you went through this experience and I know, you know, it must've been extremely traumatic for, for you, your family. I know you've got three kids, you know, you've got husband and , and what , what was the experience like with, with, you know, that managing all of that? Because here's mom with this basically a death sentence in, in, in, in, you know, certain terms that doctor was not giving you a lot of hope. The first one that you spoke to, right? And you've got kids, you've got to put through college, you know, you've got, you've got this whole other life. So what was sort of the experience that you were feeling at that time? Because like you said, you can't go to your employer and say, Hey, I need 35 K extra. So how were you kind of mentally processing all of that?

Speaker 2:

So that is such a good and complex question because there were so many things that I was mentally processing and what I can remember is I would come home from chemo and just you're wiped out for a couple of days and so one week you are wiped out. The second week you feel pretty normal. So I knew that I couldn't quit working. So I was the only person in the chemo chair with a laptop and I was working through and I just got very determined. I think. Um, I was very determined to live, so I didn't dwell on the cancer. I didn't even, it wasn't at the top of my thought process. It was keep doing what you do, keep working, keep a normal life at home as best you can. Keep moving every chance you get. And with that came, I'm not going to focus on the medical bills because I don't have the brain space for it. So those would go into a pile on the side because those represented cancer and something that I didn't want to deal with on top of the other things I had to deal with. And you can only let that go for so long. At some point you have to deal with it. You start getting phone calls, people's start. I remember when I would go in for chemo, they would say , um, you know, Carol in the business office wants to see you. So you'd go to the business office and they would say, you need to make a payment before we're going to give you treatment. And that really is kind of a weird place to be in because you sit there and I remember thinking, what if my car doesn't go through? What if it gets rejected? Right ? Am I going to walk out the door and now I'm not getting treated for something that I need to be treated for. So I was very private about what I was going through. So I wasn't somebody that was reaching out for help. I wasn't somebody that was ever going to do a go fund me. So I just dealt with this on my own. The stress, all of it. And it just compounded and compounded to where it, it just kind of exploded. You know, eventually things snowball to the point where you can't deal with them anymore.

Speaker 1:

Right. Yeah. I mean that , that's a scary, that's a powerful story. You know, we hear a lot that there are people in the country who are not getting medical care and people always expand that, you know, to kind of serve their ends. People can be very hyperbolic about a lot of different things. And so they'll say, that's not true. Everybody's getting coverage. All you gotta do is go to emergency room and so on and you're going to get treatment. We don't turn anybody away. And then on the other side, you've got people who say, everybody's, nobody's got healthcare . There's 50 million people without healthcare . And so, you know, you kinda , it's, it's difficult to understand in reality what's happening and your story of , you know, going in there and saying, well you know, I may get turned away from this life saving treatment that I need. It's , it's super powerful. It's a real concrete example of, of what's happening. So, okay , so you go and you know, all of this stuff starts snowballing. It starts kind of spiraling out of control. What is your, what is your approach? How do you, how do you start tackling that?

Speaker 2:

So at finally at some point I woke up from my haze and I said I have to deal with this. So I remember distinctly one day sitting on my bed with 50 bills. They were just bills from, from physicians, from laboratories, from hospitals that there were just a ton of them. And I thought, how am I going to tackle this year? Or somebody that understands the system. You understand how insurance works, you know, how to read all this. And I was so overwhelmed and I just spent hours organizing that . And then I just started making phone calls and I set up payment plans and , and they would say, how much are you willing to pay? And I would say $10 a month. And I went through every single bill and negotiated the lowest amount that I could pay. So now I'm forced into a situation where I have 50 new bills that I'm paying every month and trying to keep up with it. So I would keep up with it and then I would be in the hospital and have a surgery and two of those bills wouldn't get paid. So my phone was constantly ringing. Several of those bills went into collections and it honestly took probably two years for me to completely get it under control.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. And I would imagine you get those other surgeries that you just get another bill. And so it just keeps kind of stacking going after it. It's like never ending.

Speaker 2:

It never ends. And so in my insurance, the individual out of pocket maximum was around 6,000. Now it's up to 6,700, but your family maximum is twelve thousand twelve thousand nine hundred. So now I have kids that need to go to the doctor. Um, I remember a year where one of them had to go to the emergency room and I'm sitting there thinking, can we get away with urgent care? Um, do we have to go to the emergency room? So now you're questioning treatment of your kids because you don't want that bill.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah. That's, I mean, that's, that's, that's such a scary thing. That number is so high too , that $6,000 or 7,000 or 12 for a family, that is a lot of money. I mean, you know, think of a family, $40,000 a year, that's what's over a quarter of their income.

Speaker 2:

It's,

Speaker 1:

and yours was good insurance, right? I mean, you see , you see , you said you had a nice policy.

Speaker 2:

I , you know, I did. Um, my employer contributed. It wasn't like I was, yeah , I and I have a good career in a good job and I, you know, by all accounts I'm in the probably the top 10 to 20% of income earners in the country and I'm sunk. What really there , there was an experience that really brought it all together for me when I thought, okay, I'm not the only one facing this because in the beginning you think this is just happening to me. There's not, you know, nobody else is experiencing this. So I was unfair . I'm a huge reader. I follow a lot of authors on Facebook and there was an author, her daughter was diagnosed with liver cancer and I guess UCLA is a huge center for pediatric liver cancer. So they were doing the back and forth thing the same as I was. And I saw a post that she had said that they were going to sell their house because that was the only way that they could afford medical treatment for their daughter. And I sat there and I read the posts like three times and I thought, she's a pretty successful author. I don't know her personally, but she writes a lot of books and I had known through her posts that her husband had a good job. She was just like me and IPM to her and she responded and she was like, we are, we are struggling. We are struggling to keep our head above water. To continue. The girl was 16 at the time. Yeah .

Speaker 1:

Was that sort of the impetus for the founding of white white horse

Speaker 2:

at that point? I said I got really angry. I just really angry and I'm like, here, we didn't ask for this. We didn't put ourself in a situation that we did something irresponsible and this is kind of what's happening to so many people in the country. And I thought I have to do something to help people, even if it's to release the burden a little bit so that they can focus on themselves and getting healthy. I w I don't want anyone else to be sitting on their bed during chemo with 50 bills going. I feel like crap. But you know, I have to answer this call from a , from a collection agency. It's just an awful, awful feeling.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's a terrible thing to go through when you're already going through the trauma of the medical treatment. Right? I mean, liver cancer or colon cancer, chemotherapy. My mom had breast cancer and I've lived through all that whole thing. I know how draining and exhausting it is. And so trying to balance all of the other things, all of the other responsibilities in life, including the financials while you're going through something like that is just extremely

Speaker 2:

devastating. It sounds like it is. It's mentally very taxing. And then I knew right from the beginning that I didn't want my child. So at the time all of my kids were in middle school, high school, and I didn't want their high school years to be marred with, Oh, mom's sick. And you know, my mom has cancer. So I tried to keep everything positive and normal and so that it didn't affect their lives. So, so I was almost leading this dual existence. Like, I think if you asked my son today what I had gone through, he'd be able to give you high level, but he wouldn't know any further than that because I was, I was a really great actress.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. And you have a lot in common with my mom, it was the same thing. You know, she had a double mastectomy and um , uh , up until that moment everything was fine. Oh, it's fine. It's very routine, not a big deal. We're just gonna go in and you know, it's , it's precautionary and all this stuff and then it's like, wait a minute, what? Yeah, it's a big deal, you know? But it's something that moms do because you want to protect your children. Exactly. Yeah. And well, all right, so how, how are you doing today? How's your health today?

Speaker 2:

So today I am good. And I always say it's that that's today. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. So one day at a time, but it took kind of a long road, it sounds like to get to this point. And are you still or is there still maintenance going on?

Speaker 2:

So my maintenance now is I have a CT scan every three months. And as long as it's clear, we don't worry, we just wait for the next CT scan. Yeah. So I , um, had a big procedure last year that was a complication from cancer, but it wasn't cancer. It was scar tissue that created some issues. So as far as cancer itself, I haven't been treated for cancer for or coming up on two years. But as with anyone that's been through eight surgeries and chemo, you know , a lot of cancer patients die not from cancer but from complications of the treatment.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. And so this all kind of started in 2014 and what about today sort of financially? How are you recovering from that also? I'm still recovering. Yeah. I

Speaker 2:

am so excited. Last week , um, I negotiated a bill with Mayo clinic and my responsibility was $14,800 and I negotiated that down to $8,500. So those are the things I want to help other people do. And because of where I work and what we do, I have a lot of , um, tools at my fingertips that tell me what hospital's general costs are, what they pay, Medicare, things like that. So I was able to call Mayo and say, look, I, I know what the cost of this was. Or pretty close. So if I offer you this plus some room for profit, will you accept it? And, and you know, we can just pay this off and move on.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. Because that's, that's what's so I think confusing to a lot of people is it's confusing to , I think the entire country, even even, you know, the politicians and the medical professionals and the insurance companies is , nobody really knows what you can do about, about that. And so that's what I wanted to have kind of transitioned into was more about what, what, what white horse does. So, you know, I know it's not an organization that just pays people's bills off, right? Cause it's, I mean, the amount of need out there is astronomical. The amount of funding that it would take, even the federal government can't figure that out. So that can't be expected of your , uh, of your organization, your nonprofit. But, but kind of walk me through, you know, sort of the, I understand what the organization does. It's to help people sort of manage their, these types of debts.

Speaker 2:

Correct. And so what our mission and our goal is, is to help people that are in situations like I was, that they will allow us to call their providers, negotiate a payment plan, see where we can negotiate a discounted rate , um, and get them into a situation where we're taking that burden on of managing it that meets with their financial , um, you know, income goals. And if we can pay off a certain debt, we will pay it off. If we can't, we will create a payment plan or we will do something that can help them financially so that they can focus on getting better and focus on themselves. Because I think what happens in , you know, to the general population that's not in this industry, they don't realize that you can negotiate payment plans for very little. Yeah. That, that the amount of collections from a medical facility is huge. So they , um, I don't know exactly what the statistic is, but probably over 25 to 30% is in collections at any given medical facility. So they're happy if somebody can just make a payment plan. Yeah . In other instances they're happy if you can just pay them something but pay them quickly because they don't want to wait three years for that payment plan to, you know, to get all of their money. So it depends on the actual facility. Um, it depends on what the total bill is. It depends on is it in collections, is it a brand new bill? There's lots of variables. But if you can just call and talk to somebody and say, look, I'm trying to pay off 20 providers. I want to work with you. I want to get this debt paid, but I have no financial way to do it. What can you do to work with me?

Speaker 1:

Yeah. And I think a lot of people don't realize that you can do that. To your point, you know, this is something that I have seen actually in the legal space. So a lot of personal injury attorneys do this. When somebody gets in a car accident. Now it's kind of, you know, questionable both sides. It seems like what happens, somebody gets in a car accident, they go get a bunch of treatment. The chiropractors and the CT scans and the and the MRIs and everybody kind of fluffs up their numbers. It was what it sounds like, you know , these are the costs. It costs $50,000 for this person to go get treatment. The defense or the plaintiff will go after the insurance company and say, we want $200,000 for pain and suffering. And so everybody's just fluffing up their numbers and then they comes back down where people negotiate and they say, well, okay, we'll settle it for 15 you know, you reduce your fees. We go back to the chiropractor and everybody kind of negotiates out a settlement that everybody can be happy with. But it takes a lot of work. It takes a lot of time. I mean, that's a big process. That's why attorneys will typically take a third of the settlement because of all the work you've got to negotiate these liens and get everybody to reduce their rates and all this stuff , um, which, which is not very interesting topic for a podcast because it's kind of boring and a lot of numbers and things. That's not my point. My point is from your organization's standpoint, I mean, you're going to have a lot of resources, a lot of time that's going to go into helping these people navigate this because like you said, you had 50 providers. That's a lot of phone calls. That's a lot of names. That's a lot of bills. So you know, what , what's the, what's the organization looking for in terms of resources? How are you going to be able to deliver on those?

Speaker 2:

So obviously fundraising is huge for us and it's a new organization. So we are creating , um, a buzz and getting awareness and trying to get our name out there , um, to raise, to raise money. But in addition, we have , um, several volunteers that have come on board. And because of my professional background, there are several companies that have agreed to donate some of their hours to the actual negotiating of the bills. So , um, companies that we work with to help employers negotiate their piece of the bill are willing to help us get on the phones and, and negotiate things for employees. So that's been a huge saving grace. Um,

Speaker 1:

yeah, that's, that's amazing that they're willing to do that because that , I mean, I think that's obviously, you know, that's critical, right, to getting movement from these things, just kinda hitting the phones and, and just being, being aggressive about it.

Speaker 2:

Exactly. And I look at it like it's all of our responsibility. And when I say that, I say that as an industry, it is everybody's responsibility to help both sides of the coin. And we have created something that is unsustainable. I'll be interested to see in 10 years where our healthcare system is, but right now it's tracking towards, it's just not sustainable for the long term. And so I think we all had a hand in it. Everybody's trying to make money and we need to help the people that it affects most. And it's the individual is the person that's getting hurt the most.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. I've had several other guests on the podcast, other doctors and it seems like a lot of them are just bailing out of the industry. Unfortunately doctors are starting their own private practices where there is no insurance company anymore. You just pay the doctor individually. And I mean if you think about it, if you go to the doctor three or four times a year, you could probably pay somebody less than the $6,000 get better treatment and have a more robust, you know, relationship with your medical provider. Now that doesn't account for what happens in your situation. Your primary care physician is not going to be able to go and do surgery on your abdomen that needs to go to somebody else. And so now you're kind of getting weaved bright back in to the main , uh , you know, behemoth of the medical system problem that you were trying to get out of.

Speaker 2:

Right. Well here's an interesting story. So I had to get a CT scan in December and my insurance company for some reason denied it. It was coded strangely. Okay. So it was, it was an error. I had to make a lot of phone calls. But in the meantime, I called the imaging facility and I said, what's your cash price if I just am exasperated? What's your cash price? Right. And it was $600 so what they billed insurance was somewhere in the neighborhood of $1,800 they got paid from insurance a little over a thousand but my cash price is 600 so make sense of that?

Speaker 1:

Yeah. Yeah, it doesn't, it's like, it's like all these parties know that they're playing in a little dance, this little game with each other. And so everybody's trying, you know , to build the 1800 knowing that they're only going to get 1100 knowing that it actually costs them 400 so their cash price to you is 600 you know, and you're just going, what the heck is going on here? If you go to the store and buy a gallon of milk, it's what the sticker says, you know, and you kind of just know what it is. And there's, there's a lot more transparency there. There's a guy, actually I'm curious if you've, if you've heard of him, his name is David Berg . Dr. Berg. You know Dr. Berger ? Yeah. He's fascinating guy. He's local here and he runs or he's a cofounder founder of some of redirect health. And he, I watched him speak this one time and he said, people don't want health insurance. They really don't. It's just this kind of a bizarre thing that we've created. People want healthcare , they want the treatment, they want to know that if they can go and they get cancer, they get, you know, a heart attack or something that they can go and get the treatment. So he created this different, you know, redirect health, which is a different structure. I think that , um, I don't want to talk out of turn on what they do, but basically it's kind of that relationship. They're saying, we're not going to give you health insurance, but we are going to give you direct access to certain medical providers who are basically a cash price. And in his presentation he was given these different numbers. You saying, okay, you know, cancer for the average person over treatment for five years, it's $1 million. It actually costs to do , to kind of illustrate your example much less than that, you know , $80,000 or whatever, whatever the numbers were. But the difference between the two was just insane. And it's in part because I think a lot of these people are playing that dance with each other. How can we, how can we bill as much as we can and kind of milk the insurance companies and the insurance company , send it back over to the provider. So it's confusing as , as all get out.

Speaker 2:

It's very confusing. It's impossible to really weave your way through it. Um, drugs, it is a huge component. There is just so much buzz about drugs and specialty drugs and is that going to collapse the industry? There is a new drug that got approved. Um, at some point in 2019, the cost is $2 million and 2 million to use the drug. Yeah. For your treatment. And it is for a condition , um, that happens with infants and it, it actually cures the disease. So it's a cure. So it's million dollars. Your carrot, there is a drug on the market that's used right now to maintain that condition. You're never going to be cured, but you're going to maintain it. So, so there's, there's controversy. Do we spend the 2 million and cure it or do we use a much less expensive drug that we're never going to get off of? But where that becomes important is who can withstand the $2 million of a hit, right. To pay for that. Is it, there's a theory that the family should be responsible. There's a theory that the drug company needs to reduce the cost . Then you have employer insurance. Does the employer have to pay for it? And then we have who pays for that?

Speaker 1:

Right. Where does the federal government have an obligation and do taxpayers have an obligation to pay for that? Exactly . Yeah. It's complicated. And you know, I'm a capitalist through and through in a number of different ways. And so I understand that the drug company probably has $1 billion of costs to get FDA approval to do trials and treatments and all these things. And so they've got to recoup their costs because if they don't make any money off it, then they don't have any profit incentive. And this drug may never be developed. Right. And so maybe it's $2 million now, but 20 years from now, maybe it's at though , you know, at Walgreens or something. But it's, you know, and then you can go back and you can say, well, why does it cost the drug company $1 billion to get something, you know, regulated or , or pass through the FDA. Maybe we should, you know, sort of encourage some deregulation there and let sort of the capitalist system, you know, kind of run with it. But then on the other hand, you've got all these other people who say, no, Nope. We know the federal government, which she should now, you know, fund all of these different treatments and be responsible for paying for everybody's healthcare , which I, which to me just saying it sounds like it's going to just increase the problem that we're already talking about. They're going to then pay for everything and if stuff is free then you don't value it and you don't take care of yourself and you just go and get all the medical care that you want, which is going to increase the cost and it's just going to continue to snowball.

Speaker 2:

I , I think about this on a very regular basis. What is the solution? And I think it's so far out of hand that to unweave it is going to take a lot, a lot of time. I don't think there is a perfect solution. You look at Canada where they do have free healthcare , but there might be a six week wait to get a test that you really needed, you know, the next day. So there's problems in that system too. What's interesting in, in the pharmaceutical world is , um, a drug like Humira here in the States. It can cost $20,000 for one infusion. You can go down the street, it could cost 50,000 for the same infusion, you can go to Europe and it can cost 600 for an infusion. So there's, there's no consistency. I think if we can get to a point where there's actual transparency and some uniform pricing like there is with every other product that's, that might be a good first step. But there's, there's programs available now where there's third parties that will arrange for you to go to the Cayman islands to get your drugs, drug treatment infusions , not, you know, pills because it's so much less expensive and it's the exact same drug. Yeah ,

Speaker 1:

yeah, yeah. It's a complicated issue. And I'm sure we could go down that road for a very long time and probably just keep going in circles and circles as the rest of the country is so , but back to your nonprofit. So who is kind of, you know, who are you helping in this? Like who's kind of the target, you know, person or family that you want to help? Because it seems to me like this is probably there . There's no lack of the need for what you're doing. And you know, right now you've kind of, you've only got certain number of resources, which of course you're ramping up. This just launched in 2019. So kind of, you know, how, how are you working through that process or who's a good candidate for you to help?

Speaker 2:

So we work with people that have insurance and are working so the patient doesn't have to be working but a spouse, because I believe there are a lot of resources for low income families. The high income families can self-insure. They, they can afford it. It's the middle that really has the problem. So we're, we're looking to help people like myself because when I went looking for help and resources, I couldn't find, I wasn't a candidate for anything. So , um, we don't have a minimum amount of debt that you have to be in or a maximum amount amount of debt. We do have an application on our website because we want to make sure, obviously that we're helping people that don't have a ton of resources. We really want to focus on people that are at a point where we don't want them to lose their home, we don't want them to file bankruptcy. It's just unfair that they would have to do that. So that's who our focus is .

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's kind of that forgotten middle. Right? So you've got the people who are making enough money that they're going to not qualify for a lot of the other low income programs, but not enough money that they can go and just pay for the services that they need. And so they're going to get some treatment, but very likely insurance is going to cut them off at some point. They're going to need to get alternative care and that's not going to be covered. And so they're going to be facing a mountain of debt. Exactly. Yeah. And so the applications on your website, and I'm sure there are , uh, is there, is there a place that people can donate, contribute to?

Speaker 2:

Yes. So we welcome donations. Of course, we would welcome anyone that has a passion and would like to volunteer in any kind of capacity to reach out to us. So on our website there is a donate page and there is a, you know, how can you help page.

Speaker 1:

Awesome. Is there anything else that we didn't cover that we should have hit on? I feel like we covered an awful lot. We did. And we'll save the solution to the entire healthcare problem for another show. We'll part ways and we can come back and we'll solve that on another day. But let me give some information about where to connect with you. So it's white horse.org and that's w I G H T horse.org and the email is info@whitehorsedotorgagainwighthorse.org and we've got a phone number here also (602) 809-8505 you got it. Romney . Awesome. Speaking with you, love what you're doing, excited to follow along with you. I hope people can connect and we can help , uh, help. Help. See you. Help other people get through this stuff so that they don't have to experience what you did. I love it. Thank you so much for having me. Thank you.

Speaker 3:

The ruler nation podcast is brought to you by the R and R law group, Arizona's premier criminal defense and personal injury law firm available at www dot R our law, a z.com or give us a call, four eight zero four zero zero one three.