Becca: Medical Expenses & Treatment

Update 2/26
Hi everyone.
Just a quick update today to maintain awareness of Becca's campaign.

Becca is receiving medical treatment out of state. All insurance claims continue to be denied. But Becca has to keep on fighting. She has no other choice.

If each of us who has donated to, or is following this campaign, do two simple things, we can increase the reach of our message and make an even bigger impact for our friend.

Today, please:
1) Share the link to Becca's campaign in your facebook status and on one additional social media platform (Twitter, instagram, etc)

2) Post the link to Becca's campaign in a Facebook group you belong to

Want to take it a step further? Send the link to 5 friends by email.

I'm so deeply moved by the generosity of funds, time, spirit, and encouragement you all have shown to Becca. Together, we move mountains. And Becca still needs you.

Together, by sharing this campaign far and wide, we bring light to the cruel fact that health in this country is treated as a privilege, not a right. As the elders in my family, and in my activist upbringing taught me to say, THAT AIN'T RIGHT.

Please join me in raising our voices in support of our sister and friend.

Together, we move mountains.

Update 2/8/18

Good morning, everyone, and thank you so much for your continued support.

Unfortunately, our update today isn't a good one.

Becca has determined that she is unable to continue treatment at the residential medical center in Illinois after receiving unsatisfactory care there, among other reasons, including the denial of her claim for this in-network facility by her medical insurance. She has since been working with her care providers to determine next steps.

In the midst of this challenging transition, she was notified that disability insurance has denied her claim, due to pre-existing conditions. As a result, Becca is currently on unpaid leave from work. This is in addition to her health insurance's refusal to cover any residential treatment.

This is a devastating outcome for her, because while she is medically unable to work at this time, she does not have sufficient funds to cover her personal expenses - rent, bills, etc - and pay for treatment at the same time. So, she currently is not receiving the care she so desperately needs.

Becca has described the ongoing process of seeking this medically necessary, life-saving care, as traumatizing, invalidating, and dehumanizing.

Regardless of the refusal of her disability claim; regardless of the refusal of her health insurance to cover treatment, Becca still needs this treatment to survive. It is a gut-wrenching catch 22 that so many Americans face: they desperately need care; they cannot continue on without it; yet the treatment remains just out of reach.

You all have been so incredibly generous in the giving of your time and funds to Becca, and for that I thank you. And she still needs you, more than ever now. And I need you. Watching my friend suffer so brutally and unnecessarily is devastating and heartbreaking.

How can you help:
1) GIVE - If we can raise $6,000 over the next few days, we can help Becca cover her expenses for 6-8 weeks, which allow her to get back into treatment

2) SHARE - Please consider posting this campaign to your wall today. Post in facebook groups - especially Jewish groups - wherever possible. Post to Twitter. Post to Instagram. If each person who has donated to the campaign can share this campaign, the reach will be massive.

3) ADVICE - If any of you are skilled with dealing with health insurance; disability insurance; if any of you are patient advocates, case managers, or know anyone who is, PLEASE be in touch with Becca or me. Becca needs support navigating this system, which is so broken and complicated, so that she can save her "spoonse" (mental, physical energy) for the intense work of healing.

4) REACH OUT. Call, email, text, and post to Becca. She really needs our encouragement and support right now. Down the road, she may need Shabbat meals and to be hosted for the weekend in Chicago and Chicago suburbs. This kind of support is vital to her sense of well-being and community interconnectedness.

Everyone, I am so grateful for your support. So is Becca. And I honestly can't wait to have my friend back, healthy, and whole. I know lots of you feel that way. Please be in touch with any questions or suggestions.

Thank you,

Update 1/29/2018

As some of you already know, Becca and her care team made the decision to transfer to a different medical center in IL that better meets Becca's needs, and that may work better with her insurance. The financial obligation will still be significant even if Becca's insurance does decide to reimburse a portion of her care, so your continued support is still critical and so appreciated. Please share this campaign with your networks... the more we can get the word out, the greater the impact we can make for our friend.

Thank you to everyone who has donated, sent meals, and offered to help care for her cats, Hayley and Comet. Social support is so important to impacting positive outcomes for folks experiencing challenging times, and your involvement and good thoughts mean so much to Becca!

Update 1/24/2018

Becca just heard back from her insurance company, the evening before she was set to get on a plane to this facility in Houston, that they are refusing to cover any of her stay. She’s now facing an up front bill of $75,000 to $100,000.

Despite this, her doctors insist that she must go to this facility in Texas and she cannot wait another day. Though she has secured loans to pay for this treatment up front, the debt she’ll face when she comes home will be staggering.

Our dear friend Becca is in a life or death situation and she desperately needs our help. Please contribute what you can, share this link with your networks, and pray for her during this difficult and overwhelmingly emotional time.


Becca’s final out of pocket expenses for 2017 came to just over $24,000. With you help, she was able to defray some of those costs and pay for dental surgeries and other procedures.

Her doctor has determined that it is medically necessary to go into a treatment facility in Texas. The total cost of treatment there will be between $75,000 and $100,000. This is lifesaving treatment that will give Becca a vastly improved quality of life, will help take care of the myriad medical issues she’s been facing, and will hopefully allow her to return to her “normal” self.

To help with these expenses, we've raised our fundraising goal to $50,000.

More updates regarding other ways you can help will be coming soon.

Tizku l'mitzvot.

Our dear friend Becca needs our help.

TL;DR Version

Becca has been living with four chronic conditions for more than 10 years, and this year, experienced an escalation of symptoms. In order to maintain her quality of life, keep her job, and function physically, and after suffering many misdiagnoses and dead ends with local doctors, Becca sought the help of a specialist in Denver. The specialist was able to help in a few VERY BIG WAYS, which is awesome, BUT! The specialist is NOT covered by insurance. Additionally, Becca had 2 root canals fail in May, and insurance only covered a fraction of the costs associated with the root canal failures. We hope to raise $6,500 to help cover Becca's significant out-of-pocket medical costs for the rest of the calendar year, which she will be incurring over and above the nearly $8,000 she's already had to shell out for much-needed treatment.


The Full Story

Part 1: The Medical Part
Many of you don't know this, but Becca has been dealing with 4 (yep, count 'em, FOUR) chronic medical conditions since 2006. Each condition has come with its own set of painful symptoms that limit her energy, stamina, mobility, ability to sleep, and even impact the independent functioning of multible body systems. Compounding that, each of her conditions causes severe, widespread pain on a daily basis.

Like I said, most of you don't know this, because despite experiencing myriad symptoms on a daily basis, Becca is grateteful that, for the most part, she is able to get up and go to work (at a job she loves!) on a daily basis, participate in community, host Shabbat and Yom Tov meals (special meals with guests for the Jewish Sabbath and holidays), care for her family and friends both near and far, and be a guardian to two sweet cats who need daily attention. (Edited to add, from Hayley and Comet, "Make sure you tell them we need daily treats too". OK, kitties...)

Many of us who experience chronic illness have heard of "spoon theory." (If you don't know what that is, please google it). Sometimes, getting out of bed uses up a majority of our spoons for the day. For Becca, medical treatment, social support and humor (a favorite coping skill!) are all parts of the picture that help her get the most out of her spoons and live a life that makes her happy. But it's important for us all to acknowledge that, just because someone "seems" fine on the outside, doesn't mean we know what they're going through in private.

Over the course of the last year, the symptoms caused by Becca's chronic illnesses have increased in intensity, and she has had to redouble her already considerable efforts at self-advocacy with her medical providers, in hopes of finding a connection between her four chronic illnesses, and in doing so, hopefully get some relief.

After months of reaching dead ends with doctors, receiving misdiagnoses, and being told repeatedly that her increasing symptoms were unrelated to one another, Becca recently experienced a breakthrough. In May, she discovered a specialist in Colorado who works with folks with similar medical backgrounds to hers, who share one of her specific categories of diagnoses, to help them identify causes of these "unexplainable" medical phenomena that accompany their specific diagnosis, and work toward comprehensive treatment solutions that suit their needs as a whole person.

So on Monday, June 26, Becca traveled by herself to Colorado to see this specialist - by the way, this specialist is one of only two in the country - at her clinic in Denver. In Denver Becca spent a week undergoing numerous diagnostic tests, seeing physical therapists, and other specialists who work in partnership with the specialist's clinic. Gratefully, this specialist was able to give Becca the diagnoses she has been seeking for years, and they were able to work together on a treatment plan that includes drug therapy, multiple types of physical therapy, and ongoing monitoring by her new care team.

Part of the reason Becca was able to work with the  specialist and receive such complete diagnoses is because this doctor was able to spend more time with her than most doctors are able to. The clinic shared - and irony is not lost on us - that part of the reason the doctor is able to spend so much time one-on-one with each patient is attributed to the fact that the specialist's clinic does not take insurance.

Here's where the numbers part begins:

- Becca's initial consultation with the specialist cost $1,500 (this does not include her travel or accommodations for a week in Denver).

- Part of Becca's treatment plan includes required, ongoing monitoring by her treatment team in Denver. In order to ensure she is able to access her team, she must pay an annual fee of $5,000

- Over and above her annual fee of $5,000 to receive ongoing monitoring by her care team, Becca is also responsible for $200, twice-monthly consultations with the specialist. This is a necessary and unavoidable part of her treatment plan.

- Becca will need to receive physical therapy twice per week here in Chicago,  for at least a year (and likely longer) as part of her treatment. Her insurance covers PT at 90% AFTER a $2,500 deductible is met.

- Becca has paid over $3,600 out of pocket so far, as part this process.

Part 2: The Dental Part
In addition to the expenses Becca has incurred this year surrounding treatment for symptoms of her four chronic conditions, she has also had the experience  of having two root canals fail, resulting in severe infections that did not respond to two moths of antibiotic treatment. Unfortunately, the antibiotic treatment resulted in a secondary condition called SIBO (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth) that causes its own host of symptoms that significantly negatively impact her daily functioning. The medication for the SIBO is, unfortunately, not covered by insurance.

Because the two failed root canals did not respond to antibiotic treatment, Becca has had to undergo extraction of the affected teeth and bone graft surgery to support dental implants. Once the bone grafts heal, she will need two dental implants and crowns made to complete the implants. This is a nine-month process that has so far cost Becca $3,900 out of pocket.

Becca anticipates that her combined medical and dental treatments will end up costing her at least $15,000 out of pocket by the end of the calendar year.

Friends, that's where we all come in.

Firstly, and most pressingly, we would like to raise $6,500 by September to alleviate some of the financial pressure that will be incurred by Becca's medical treatment between now and the end of the year. This means each of us chipping in what we can... $10, $50, $100... each little bit makes a big difference!

Secondly, we have an opportunity to show up for our friend in a big way. I asked Becca what, other than the obvious financial help, would most positively impact her situation, and she said social support! For her, this looks like invitations to Shabbat and Yom Tov meals, and meals during the week, even if it means grabbing a quick bite together. It looks like phone calls, emails, texts, just to say hi, because fam, this is A LOT to deal with for her, emotionally. It looks like connections to providers who might be willing to help out with some of her dental care on a sliding or reduced scale. It looks like hugs. It looks like stepping up to feed her cats if she has to go back to Denver for treatment. It means keeping her in your good thoughts, and prayers for a full and speedy recovery, a refuah shleimah.

Friends, we all know Becca is fabulous in every way, but her reality, her daily life, is hard due to her illnesses. This treatment is critical. Please join me in rallying together in support of our friend today, in any way you can.

Thank you.

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    • $36 
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    • $20 
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Organizer and beneficiary

Anna Freedman Markowitz 
Chicago, IL
Rebecca Shrier