Wake County mother questioning why her son had $33K insurance check prior to overdose

Wake County News

APEX, N.C. (WNCN) – A Wake County woman who lost her son to drug addiction says he was the person she was closest to. 

Joseph Hocket II is constantly on Jennifer Alba’s mind.

“He was the closest person in my life,” she said. 

Alba said her son had battled addiction since he was 13. Through the addiction, he fought to stop. 

“There were so many texts that said ‘I don’t want this. I don’t want to be this. I want to get better. I want to help other people,'” Alba said. 

But in September 2017, Hockett was found dead at the age of 29. She said the cause of his death was cocaine and heroin toxicity. 

“Sixteen years of addiction, and then just one second he’s gone. It was very hard,” Alba said. 

Alba said she found out that days before, her son deposited a check of about $33,000 from Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina. 

“It was out of network,” Alba explained. “It was several things, because it was from January to July, so it was a combination of things. 

Then, over a three-day span, she said he withdrew $13,000 before he died. 

“To a parent that’s seen their child suffer for 16 years, this is absurd. He should’ve never had that much money in his hand,” Alba said. “That’s a lot of money. I don’t know what else was bought by any means. But definitely drugs.”

Austin Vevurka, a Blue Cross NC spokesman, released this statement to CBS 17 Friday: 

We recognize the death of Joseph Hockett is a tragedy and extend our condolences to the family.

Under our policy, for any out-of-network urgent or emergent facility claim over $25,000, we contact the provider and attempt to negotiate a payment rate that will be paid directly to them instead of the member. If a provider agrees to a negotiated rate, we pay them directly. If they refuse, we pay the member because that is who we are contractually obligated to pay. We have applied this policy to numerous providers in the state, including this hospital, and have typically successfully negotiated payments directly to the provider as a result.   And while we cannot discuss the particulars of any member’s case, we can confirm that we followed our policy in this case and offered to negotiate a payment with the provider.

Blue Cross NC and the North Carolina Healthcare Association have agreed to work together to find the best ways that both hospitals and insurers can address this issue.

But Alba hopes to see change. 

“I feel like if they hadn’t of sent that to him, he wouldn’t have died that week,” she said.  

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