ROCKWELL CITY, Iowa - The wife of a fallen Iowa police officer says the health insurance her family was promised after her husband's death is being stripped away due to apparent miscommunication between the health insurance company and the city, according to WHO-TV.
Officer Jamie Buenting died from a gunshot wound four years ago while serving as an officer with the Rockwell City Police Department. He worked at the department for eight years.
Following his death, the city council passed a resolution that promised families of city employees killed on the job will be covered on the city's health insurance policy for five years. However, the town's mayor says there was never a formal agreement made between the city and Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Buenting’s widow, Amanda, says she’s now without insurance and forced to pay for her daughter’s medical bills out-of-pocket. Kalie, 11, was diagnosed with diabetes at 2 and was recently diagnosed with a secondary autoimmune disorder that requires chemotherapy to prevent her body from attacking itself.
“From this point forward, the specialties, the diabetic supplies, the insulin pumps, the chemotherapy. It adds up to hundreds of thousands a year,” she says.
The city told WHO-TV it recently learned Blue Cross Blue Shield only provides coverage for three years following a death. Despite the confusion, Beunting is refusing to play the blame game.
“I think right now blame is probably not the thing to do. I think more it’s to move forward from this point on and help protect those families that give the ultimate sacrifice," she says.
Buenting is calling for changes to local and state laws to make sure children can continue receiving life insurance after a parent dies. She says the state should mirror the Des Moines Police Department’s policy, which allows children to be covered until the age of 26.
“This is important, and not just for me. What about the other first responder families that have to look into this in the future? That means they are not protected.”
Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield says it is working directly with the city to look at its current policy plans to determine if other options are available.