Power of Social Media: Aetna CEO Pay Cancer Student’s Medical Bill

Arijit Guha, a graduate student suffering from Stage IV colon cancer utilizes Twitter to convince Aetna CEO to cover ‘every last penny’ of his 114k medical bill showcases the growing power of social media

Arijit Guha, an Arizona State University graduate student with Stage IV colon cancer faced with a 114k and rising medical bills whose medical policy ran out half way through his treatment waged a Twitter war against Aetna’s CEO Mark T. Bertolini with him agreeing to “cover every last penny.” Despite taking out a policy under the university’s health plan, which cost him $400 a month, its carrier Aetna had an annual cap on pay-outs. After undergoing surgery and chemotherapy, he had exhausted his policy’s lifetime limit of $300,000. Under the Affordable Healthcare Act, lifetime caps have been eliminated; however, the caps are still in effect for student plans until August 1.

Frustrated with the mounting medical bills, Guha known as @Poop_Strong desperately took to Twitter waging war against Aetna and it’s CEO, Mark T. Bertolini. Aetna intially responded to back with the following:

@Poop_Strong Twitter War Against Aetna
Arijit took to Twitter to highlight his case, out of frustration and desperation

Other Twitter users joined in the argument as shown below:

Wading in: The online exchange prompted a series of angry tweets from other Twitter users

 

Wading in: The online exchange prompted a series of angry tweets from other Twitter users
It was at this point, Aetna CEO, Mark Bertolini exchanged tweets with Guha:

 @Poop_Strong Twitter War Against Aetna 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

@Poop_Strong Twitter War Against Aetna 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

@Poop_Strong Twitter War Against Aetna 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By the end of their two day conversation, the CEO agreed to cover “every last penny” of his medical bills. CEO Bertolini – a former paramedic – later tweeted: ‘The system is broken and I am committed to fixing it. I am glad we connected today and got this issue solved, I appreciate the dialogue no matter how pointed.’ Guha, now 31 and in remission, told ABC News, “I am incredibly pleased and in shell shock and trying to figure out what just happened.  It’s a huge relief.”

Guha no stranger for being creative in paying for his chemotherapy treatments managed to raise more than $100,000 by selling t-shirts with the Poop Strong logo based on the cancer survivor Lance Armstrong’s slogan of Live Strong. He now plans to donate the sum to 3 cancer charities in Arizona.

Arijit Guha victory over Aetna highlights the growing power of social media’s influence in society and a sad glimpse into our broken healthcare system.

photo via @Poop_Strong

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