Local man says he’s unfairly having to pay thousands more for delayed surgery due to coronavirus

Patient said insurance company won’t budge

SUGAR LAND, Texas – One local man said he is now having to pay thousands of dollars more for a surgery, which was delayed due to the coronavirus.

Derrick Huery was determined to turn his life around after doctors told him that he needed to make some major changes. They also recommended he get a gastric sleeve surgery. However, the coronavirus delayed the procedure. He said the unfortunate timing cost him thousands.

“This wasn’t something that I chose to do, this wasn’t something that I put off -- this was global,” Huery said.

Huery said he worked to meet all the requirements and to change his habits to shed weight for his benefit and to get the surgery.

“I went through a 7-month process, with the nutritionist and everything that was required,” Huery said.

His wife, Tonya, supported his progress.

“I was very proud because he lost 89 pounds on his own so he was very determined to do what needed to be done because he has a lot of underlying health issues that need to be addressed with this surgery,” Tonya Huery said.

In March, Derrick Huery thought his hard work would earn him this major milestone.

"I was 24 hours away from having the surgery," Derrick Huery said.

However, the coronavirus threw a curveball in his plans.

“Unfortunately, the pandemic happened and they told us they were not going to be able to,” he said.

After a one-week delay for medical reasons, his surgery was re-scheduled for March 27.

“To get to that point, it was feeling really good,” Derrick Huery said.

Less than 24 hours before the surgery, on March 26, Derrick Huery was told that his surgery would not happen due to the pandemic. Unfortunately, the timing did not work out well for Huery.

On April 1, Huery said it was the end of his insurance year with UnitedHealthcare.

“Everything reset. The deductibles, the co-pays and everything,” Huery said.

Huery was devastated because he had already fully met his deductible with UnitedHeatlhcare for the year. However, since the next year of his policy began in April, he was in a bind.

“It went from $1,300 to pay to $5,000 out of pocket max,” Huery said.

He asked UnitedHealthcare for flexibility. While he can reschedule the surgery, he says he was told there was nothing UnitedHealthcare could do about the new deductible.

“It was basically, ’We’re not budging. This is policy, this is procedure,'” Huery said.

The couple was heartbroken.

"What are we going to do?" Huery said.

The couple said they hope that the insurance company would have more compassion since no one had planned for the coronavirus.

“Have a small bit of understanding,” Huery said.

The Huery's said they tried to plan the timing of the surgery strategically.

“We cannot afford to have $5,000 to be thrown at us at such a short time when his health is on the line,” Tonya Huery said.

KPRC 2 reached out to UnitedHealthcare. They said they are looking into Huery’s case and are working on a response.

KPRC 2 will continue to follow this story.