I’m an Insurance Agent and My Insurance Almost Killed Me

My friends thought it was funny when my appendix almost burst, not because they are unfeeling and ill tempered monsters, but because of the irony of not just being an insurance agent but sitting on the national boards of many of the largest insurance companies in the nation. I have some stature in my business and still, insurance was not easy.
I had minor pain in my stomach for two days. Nothing major. No fever, nausea or vomiting. It wasn’t particularly tender over my appendix so that didn’t raise any red flags either. Naturally, I did Google searches and narrowed it down to gallbladder, ovarian cancer, appendicitis or constipation, in that order or likelihood. On day 3, I woke up feeling fine. I had an appointment with my primary care doctor two days later. I told her what happened. She palpated my stomach and I still didn’t have any pain. She shrugged. I shrugged. Then I asked her to order a CAT scan. “I know it’s probably overkill, but being in health insurance makes me paranoid so let’s rule out the silent cancer in the ovaries.” She agreed and I called back the next day to make the appointment but insurance hadn’t approved the scan.

The results came back as acute appendicitis and the doctor told me to immediately report to the emergency room before it burst. I still had no pain. This reminded me of the amount of women that die of heart attack each year because they don’t present the common symptoms that men present. Maybe their jaw hurts, but not their chest or arm. So they ignore it and don’t go to the ER.

The surgeon told me I was lucky my appendix hadn’t burst. That would have been a week or more in the hospital, on the insurance company’s dime.

Why it took 3 weeks to get approved for the scan doesn’t matter. It’s common. Insurance isn’t efficient. Their systems are overworked and people make errors. Maybe my doctor’s office forgot to process the request, that happens too.

I’m fine. The total surgery cost me $800 due to my wonderful insurance but insurance delays could have caused me to have a very different outcome.


Sylvia Gordon and her sister, Rebecca, run Gordon Marketing, one of the nation’s largest Medicare FMO/NMA offices. They have a team of over 100 that train and support independent insurance agents in all 50 states. You can find Sylvia’s weekly posts on LinkedIn and the sisters' Youtube channel posts 2 training videos each week. Contact Sylvia at sgordon@gordonmarketing.com or 800-388-8342.