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Oak Park dad takes to TikTok to fight $40,000 bill for cancer surgery

Oak Park dad takes to TikTok to fight $40,000 bill for cancer surgery

CHICAGO (CBS) – An Oak Park dad sick with cancer is fighting two battles: his health and his health insurance.

A claim for tumor-removal surgery came in at $40,000. That’s $40,000 for his portion of the bill and insurance wouldn’t budget.

CBS 2’s Lauren Victory explained the unusual way this patient pushed back by taking to TikTok.

His video about the expensive claims was up to 69,000 views on Monday. His account is called “Aaron Won’t Shut Up” and he said he wanted to live up to his name.

He never expected the response he got.

Aaron McManus has a mountain of medical mail that started to accumulate after he felt sick in June.

“I kind of assumed it was some kind of infection to be honest, and then they wanted me to go get a CT scan that day so I did,” he said.

The result came in: renal carcinoma.

“‘You have cancer,'” he recalled being told. “‘Take care of this now. This is a football-sized tumor. You need to act.'”

McManus wasted no time. Scars from the surgery he underwent a few weeks later are visible in a photo.

He left Gottlieb Hospital in Melrose Park cautiously optimistic about the tumor.

“When they removed it, it had clear margins,” he said. “They didn’t see any sign of spread so it was kind of like ‘This looks good!'”

With one fight down, the next battle began when his claim for the surgery came in.

Nearly $4,000 for room and board, $2,400 for pharmacy, $5,800 for supplies. The list of expenses went on.

“‘Your responsibility is $40,000.’ What?” McManus said. “That’s a huge amount of money.”

He filed an appeal with his health insurance provider Anthem Blue Cross. But he was denied.

So he shared his story in a TikTok video filled with special effects.

@aaronwontshutup anthem refuses to pay for my kidney surgery, saying it wasnt medically necessary. It's a systemic problem. #healthcare #cancer #lgbtq #anthem #bcbs #corruption ♬ original sound - Aaron McManus

“I was not about to mess around with this cancer,” McManus said in the TikTok video. “I don’t want to die. My kid needs me.”

“And then I got a phone call later that day by the time it hit like 50,000 people,” McManus said. “The person on the phone said ‘We’ve been dealing with nothing but you all day. Hundreds of people had called.'”

Anthem Blue Cross actually referenced the TikTok video in a follow-up letter and reviewed his claim a second time.

The new conclusion: McManus’ estimated balance wasn’t $40,000, but $61.

“Why does it take going to TikTok?” McManus said. “Why does it take hundreds of phone calls? Why is this level of advocacy necessary?”

McManus recently found out his cancer spread to his lungs, but he’s optimistic after researching some innovative treatments. He hopes they’re covered by insurance and that he won’t need to make TikTok videos anymore.

A spokesperson for Anthem said inaccurate information from the suburban dad’s doctor caused the billing error.

The company’s statement read: “We’re sorry this caused stress in an already stressful time, and our care team continues to be in contact and work closely with Mr. McManus to guide him and help ensure he has access to the care, information and answers he needs. Due to incorrect details provided by his physician Mr. McManus was sent a bill based on this inaccurate information. Once this error was discovered during the appeals process, it was corrected and the bill in question was covered according to Mr. McManus ‘ benefits.”

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