+
upworthy
Identity

Trans doctor says major insurance companies are refusing to pay her after legal name change

"As long as they're denying my claims for my services on that ground, they can do that to any trans healthcare provider of any type."

insurance companies; trans rights; trans doctor; trans community
Courtesy of Dr. Tiffany Najberg

Insurance companies can withhold pay for trans doctors and one doctor is fighting back.

Insurance companies can be a frustrating maze for consumers and for providers. It's not uncommon to call the number on the back of your insurance card and get a different answer every time you call with the same question. But for Dr. Tiffany Najberg, the fight with the insurance companies is a bit more personal.

Najberg is a transgender woman who has run into a multitude of problems in the insurance claims world—not as a patient, but as a provider. After changing her name legally and updating all of the required information on official websites, including the Council for Affordable Quality Healthcare and the National Plan and Provider Enumeration System, two websites insurance companies look at to verify providers' credentials and ability to practice, her claims have been denied.

In the beginning of this year-long saga, Najberg was receiving checks, but the checks were in her dead name and couldn't be cashed. After going several rounds with the insurance companies, the checks stopped coming and the insurance companies started denying her claims altogether. Of course, this prompted even more questions and frustration since Najberg updated the insurance companies with her legal name as required.


Najberg told Upworthy that on six different occasions, she and her billing company attempted to rectify the situation to no avail. These aren't small companies that may have never encountered such a request. In fact, many Americans with insurance are likely covered by one of the companies she's currently challenging. "Human, Cigna and Aetna flat out refused, but Medicaid, BlueCross BlueShield changed it immediately so it clearly has been approved through national databases," Najberg said.

The insurance companies' refusal to pay has been hurting Najberg and her practice, UrgentEMS, located in Shreveport, Louisiana. "My clinic treats everyone, but we aim towards communities that are underinsured and uninsured. I don’t have money to pay my rent next month because of this," the doctor told Upworthy.

Najberg explained that between the three major insurance companies, she is currently owed nearly $200,000 in unpaid claims. Of course, she could turn patients who have these particular insurances away, but for Najberg, that's not an option because she focuses on serving those who are underinsured and people in marginalized communities. She currently has over 100 trans patients who need continued healthcare with someone who makes them feel safe.

During the height of the pandemic, her clinic served as a place where people could get COVID-19 treatment, with Najberg proudly saying she treated everyone across the political spectrum. Najberg has built such a reputation on TikTok for her openness and ability to present public health issues in a relatable way that CDC officials have contacted her for pointers on how to engage the public.

But none of that matters if she can't keep her doors open, and the fear that comes from recognizing that possibility keeps her up at night. Through tears, Najberg expressed her concerns for the most vulnerable population she treats, saying, "I'll likely have to sleep in my car, and what about my trans patients? If my clinic closes, a few of them may kill themselves."

Dr. Najberg runs a clinic in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Courtesy of Dr. Tiffany Najberg

Najberg actually found herself in the position to lose everything last month after once again not being paid, but thankfully someone anonymously paid the rent on her office space, which costs around $5,000 a month. Recently, she has relied on donations from her followers in order to keep her doors open until she wins her fight with the insurance companies.

During the interview, Najberg informed Upworthy that one insurance company is now complying. "Aetna has started processing all the back claims and a new contract has been signed. I have no retirement anymore. I have no savings. I’ll never own property. For a lifetime to be wiped away over a name change is ridiculous," Najberg said.

A name change isn't uncommon. People change their names for multiple reasons, the main one being marriage, so it would stand to reason that insurance companies know how to navigate name changes within their system. What makes this name change so different if other companies had no issue?

It took Najberg months of phone calls to find out the reason for her denials was due to her name change and she was advised to submit under her dead name. But submitting an insurance claim under a different name than your own is insurance fraud and kind of illegal, she protested.

For Najberg, who's had a lifelong passion for helping people, the fight isn't just for herself.

"If they’re doing this to me, they have to be doing this to other people. If they get away with this, they’ll do it to other trans providers," Najberg told Upworthy.

If you'd like to support Dr. Tiffany in her fight against the insurance companies, you can sign her petition here, and if you'd like to donate to help her pay rent and get needed medical supplies, you can do that here.

Community

Decluttering top of mind for 2024? This Facebook group can help

This online community offers easy-to-implement advice for decluttering, organizing, and cleaning up your home and your life with support from 125,000 members.

With the new year comes plenty of resolutions we all vow to keep up with the best of intentions. But by February 1, our resolve has often waned as life gets in the way and things go back to how they were. What we all need a little more of is motivation.

When we participate in something collectively, it’s easier to meet goals and maintain the enthusiasm to get things done. While the support of a friend or two is great, imagine having the power of an entire online community cheering you on and offering advice along the way.

This is where the Daily Decluttering Challenge Facebook group comes in. This online community offers easy-to-implement advice for decluttering, organizing, and cleaning up your home and your life with support from 125,000 members.

“By building a network of people who can support and encourage you along the way, you can make progress towards your goals faster and more effectively. Remember, no one achieves success alone, and having a strong support system can make the difference in a goal set versus a goal achieved,” says Kristin Burke, a goal achievement coach.

In addition to tips for tidying up around the house, members share advice on how to tackle one thing at a time, where to donate excess items, and what they do to exercise more willpower to avoid buying new things.

For anyone hoping to declutter their lives in the new year, this Facebook group has the perfect challenge to get you started.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

Here’s a paycheck for a McDonald’s worker. And here's my jaw dropping to the floor.

So we've all heard the numbers, but what does that mean in reality? Here's one year's wages — yes, *full-time* wages. Woo.

Making a little over 10,000 for a yearly salary.

I've written tons of things about minimum wage, backed up by fact-checkers and economists and scholarly studies. All of them point to raising the minimum wage as a solution to lifting people out of poverty and getting folks off of public assistance. It's slowly happening, and there's much more to be done.

But when it comes right down to it, where the rubber meets the road is what it means for everyday workers who have to live with those wages. I honestly don't know how they do it.

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

Neil deGrasse Tyson's touching statement on dogs, joy and mortality is a real tear-jerker

"They are some of the most joyous creatures that live among us."

Neil deGrasse Tyson's heartfelt speech on dogs.

Astrophysicist, best-selling author and People Magazine’s “Sexiest Astrophysicist Alive,” Neil deGrasse Tyson, has made a long career educating people about the universe and helping us make sense of its seemingly infinite mystery.

But in a recent “Dropouts” podcast interview, Tyson focused on a subject closer to home: man’s best friend, the dog. During the interview, he discussed how dogs have an incredible lust for life that may somehow be tied to an understanding that their time on this Earth is far too short.

Keep ReadingShow less

Kayleigh Donahue explains the differences between the U.S. and Europe.

American-born TikTok user Kayleigh Donahue is going viral on the platform because of her unflinching take on why it was a mistake for her to move back to the U.S. after spending 4 years in Ireland.

She now lives in the Boston area.

Kayleigh moved back to the U.S. from Ireland to make more money, but that didn’t go as planned. Even though she got paid more, the cost of living was so much higher that she saved less money than she did in Ireland. She also missed the generous number of vacation days she got in Europe as compared to America.

Keep ReadingShow less

Chef Will Coleman shares his 6-to-1 shopping method.

Chefwillco/TikTokChef Will Coleman is getting a lot of attention on TikTok after sharing his 6-to-1 grocery shipping method, which has an incredible number of benefits. It makes shopping easy, promotes a healthy diet, eliminates food waste, reduces mental labor, saves money and enhances your creativity in the kitchen.

Chef Will Coleman is a video personality, writer and food stylist.

He lays out his simple shopping method in a video with nearly 1 million views. “We’re all trying to save money this year, and my 6-to-1 grocery shopping method … is super, super simple … you grab six veggies, five fruits, four proteins, three starches, two sauces or spreads, and one fun thing for yourself,” Coleman says.

Keep ReadingShow less
Image by Delia D Blackburn, used with permission.

Brittany Peck's wedding.


"Just because you didn't do marriage well doesn't mean you can't do divorce fabulously."

That's something my mother-in-law said to me when her son and I were ending our young, impetuous, and ultimately-not-right-for-us marriage. It stuck with me through the years.

These sweet images from Brittany Peck's wedding have struck a chord with families across the Internet, and they seem to be getting that very same lesson about "doing divorce well" through to millions.

Keep ReadingShow less
via WFTV

Server Flavaine Carvalho was waiting on her last table of the night at Mrs. Potatohead's, a family restaurant in Orlando, Florida when she noticed something peculiar.

The parents of an 11-year-old boy were ordering food but told her that the child would be having his dinner later that night at home. She glanced at the boy who was wearing a hoodie, glasses, and a face mask and noticed a scratch between his eyes.

Keep ReadingShow less