Reporting Stephanie Stahl
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By Stephanie Stahl
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A New Jersey family desperate to get their disabled son a wheelchair turned to 3 On Your Side for help after they were turned down by their insurance company. Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl has more on their ordeal.
Two-and-a-half year old Cameron Houghton can’t walk, sit up on his own or talk, but he’s still a happy little boy.
“There’s a large number of limitations for Cameron. We basically do everything for him,” said Angela Houghton, Cameron’s mother.
He has a growth hormone deficiency and cerebral palsy. His parents have to carry him around their house in West Deptford, and prop him up to sit. They rarely take him out.
“It’s been challenging to say the least,” said Jason Houghton, Cameron’s father.
So when he reached 30 pounds, doctors prescribed a specialized wheelchair that costs about $5,000. The Houghton’s couldn’t afford it, and their insurance company, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, refused to pay for one.
“I don’t think anybody could really comprehend why it was denied,” said Angela.
The insurance company said the wheelchair wasn’t medically necessary, based on the information it had. The denial letter said more proof was needed, including paperwork that showed a cane or walker would not work for Cameron. The Houghton’s called the company to complain.
“I was livid. I was like well what is a child that doesn’t even sit by himself do with a cane or a walker. I was floored, and I was so angry that I just knew I couldn’t take no for an answer, and that’s when I contacted CBS-3,” said Angela.
We reached out to the insurance company. The next day, Anthem overturned its original decision. Cameron’s wheelchair was approved.
“It’s something that we’ve wanted for so long,” said Angela.
Finally, the customized wheelchair was ready at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Seeing it brought Angela to tears.
“I’m just overwhelmed that it’s finally here,” said Angela.
Cameron looked especially happy and excited as he was fitted for the new wheelchair.
And the first stroll, giving the family the kind of freedom and comfort they’ve been dreaming of and fighting for.
“It melts my heart because now he seems so happy. He seems so comfortable. He seems just ready to take on the world. Really he looks like a million bucks,” said Angela.
Anthem tells 3 On Your Side our involvement had no impact on their decision, and that the family reached out to them and the wheelchair was approved before our involvement. But they didn’t tell the family of the approval, until after we contacted them.