An Arizona mom is fighting her health insurance company to access a special treatment facility for her daughter who can’t stop eating – but says the insurer has already turned down the request multiple times.
Hannah Wilkinson, 16, has Prader-Willi syndrome – a rare and complex condition that, among other things, means Hannah feels hungry all the time.
Her mother, Tonya Coupaud, is battling United Healthcare so that Hannah can receive the specialised treatment that the family say she needs.
“Just imagine if you were hungry all the time, 24/7 and couldn’t eat and even if you did eat, you’re still starving,” Coupaud told 12 News.
There is currently no cure for the genetic disorder, which affects appetites, growth, metabolism, cognitive function and behaviour, and treatment requires specialists.
Coupaud says that her daughter’s doctors do the best they can, but “just do not know enough about Prader-Willi Syndrome.”
The family found some success for Hannah’s health by getting her involved in a case study, which Coupaud described as “just amazing.”
The study involved testing a medication that helped with weight loss and behavior control, and Hannah lost close to 80 pounds.
But the study unexpectedly ended and there are no plans for it to resume – so Coupaud is once again taking up her fight to send Hannah to a one-of-a-kind in-patient facility in Pittsburgh that specializes in Prader-Willi.
Hannah’s weight is currently at 280 pounds – which is considered obese, but is healthier than her weight three years ago, which stood at 355 pounds.
“She has some heart problems and her heart can’t take that weight,” Coupaud said.
“Everything is locked up in our home. Even the bread box has a lock on it,” she continued, adding that she has caught her daughter eating from the trash and even eating dog food.
Speaking of her continued battle against her insurer, Coupaud said: “When there’s something out there that will help your child, you will do what it takes to help her.”
“We won’t stop,” she added, “We won’t stop.”
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