KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Sondra Snider can’t speak, squeeze a hand or even blink on command.
The 17-year-old girl from Calhoun, Mo., was taken by emergency helicopter to Research Medical Center on April 6 after crashing her car. Hospital records show she had a blood alcohol level of .064.
Snider’s insurance provider, Humana, was refusing to cover her medical bills or any future rehabilitation because it has a clause that says patients aren’t covered if they were legally intoxicated and responsible for their injuries.
On April 9, Humana sent the Snider a family letter that reads in part, “Sondra had serum blood alcohol level of .064, which in the State of Missouri is considered over the legal limit. Therefore, the inpatient admission to Research Medical Center has been denied.”
In Missouri, the legal limit for teens is .02. For adults, it’s .08.
“You know that’s the reason we have insurance is because of accidents. Accidents happen, this was an accident,” says Sondra’s mother Renee Snider.
Snider admits her daughter made a poor choice to drink and drive, but says she and her husband have paid their premiums for a decade and their daughter should be covered regardless of whether the accident was Sondra’s fault or not.
“I think every insurance company looks for a way to deny a claim, but I think this one is just outrageous,” say Renee Snider.
Sondra Snider suffered a traumatic brain injury, a broken jaw, a broken collarbone and even after coming out of a five-week coma is still unresponsive.
“They’re trying to get her to even blink for a yes or a no and she don’t,” says Snider.
The Snider’s family attorney, Michael Edgett, wrote a Humana a letter stating in part, “Ms. Snider was not “intoxicated” as that term is defined in Missouri or any other state of the Union.”
UPDATE TO THE STORY: Friday afternoon, May 24, FOX 4′s Rob Low spoke to a supervisor for Humana, who confirmed the insurance company will now pay for the medical claims of the teenager.
The legal blood alcohol limit for adults in Missouri is .08. But for minors like 17-year-old Sondra, it’s just .02. However, Humana never mentioned Sondra’s age as a reason for denying her medical claim.
Her parents say their big worry is what happens when Research Medical Center is ready to discharge Sondra to a rehabilitation clinic.
“I can’t take care of her at home in the situation she’s in right now,” says Renee Snider.
She insists a rehab clinic is needed to help Sondra, “learn to walk, talk, stand, just to stand. She can’t even stand.”
A Humana spokesman told FOX 4 the company was looking into the Snider’s case based on our inquiries, but on Thursday, wasn’t able to provide a comment. On Friday, they told FOX 4 they did expect to pay the medical claims.
A spokesperson for the Missouri Highway Patrol confirms that alcohol was marked as a contributing factor in the crash report, but adds Sondra Snider was never arrested.