A musician rom Luzerne County who sang the praises of the Geisinger Health System for the care he received after suffering a stroke has demanded Geisinger pull the ads in which he is featured.
In his words, Lou Marino of Exeter said he was a poster child for Geisinger, praising the health system and its doctors.
The musician and young father tells the region about care at Geisinger in a recent television commercial.
“At age 33, I was having a major stroke,” Marino said in the commercial.
“Something told me to get outside, yell for help. So that’s what I did,” Marino said.
An ambulance then rushed him from his Exeter home to Geisinger Wyoming Valley’s emergency room where doctors saved his life.
After ten days in the hospital and five months of rehab, Marino returned from a major stroke to his job at DeAngelo Brothers Industry Service Company in Hazelton.
Then, three months ago, another setback for Marino. DeAngelo Brothers downsized, costing Marino his job and his health insurance.
“I applied to Geisinger Health Insurance. I thought it would be a slam dunk. I thought it would be easy to get,” Marino said.
Instead of insurance Marino got a letter. His stroke was a pre-existing condition. Geisinger declined his application for health insurance.
“I just feel a little bit betrayed by that,” he said. “They had me on TV saying how wonderful it was and how I’ve come so far with their help.”
“This is a national problem where patients with pre-existing conditions can not get individual coverage,” said Dr. Steven Peirdon, Chief Medical Officer of Geisinger Health System. He admits there is a local problem too.
Despite Lou Marino’s story, Geisinger cannot bend the rules.
“It’s the way the regulations are written. We can’t as an insurance company make those changes individually,” Dr. Pierdon added.
The hospital tried to help Marino find another way to get insurance, including a suggestion he could’nt believe.
“Go on disability,” said Marino. Medical disability.
Marino finds that idea offensive. This is a man who rides his mountain bike an hour and a half every day. He pushes his body to the limit.
When he’s not on his mountain bike he pushes his friends, his eight-year- old daughter and himself to the limit scaling rocks and hillsides.
“I’m not disabled,” he said. “I’m in the best shape of my whole life. Even pre-stroke. I feel better now than I ever have.”
Marino still watches his copy of the ad that no longer airs so he can watch his kids smile but he’s struggling to get over rejection of health insurance from an organization he said used him to help their business.
Lou Marino stressed he believes the doctors and medical staffers at Geisinger are second to none. They saved his life and helped him rehabilitate.
He just thinks he deserved better treatment from the insurance side of Geisinger’s health care business.