Jasmine Winning enjoys every minute of each day.
The two and a half-year-old Santa Clarita girl wears sparkly red shoes, loves ballet and swimming, climbs all over her parents and big brothers when she wants to play and insists on giving everyone she meets a high five.
Meeting Jasmine, seeing her giggle and play with a plastic cash register with her mom on her living room floor, it is not evident she has to fight every day to stay alive.
Jasmine lives with Hypoplastic Left Heart, which means she only has half of a heart, and Heterotaxy Syndrome, which means many of her organs are flipped the wrong way.
At only 10 days old, Jasmine endured her first heart surgery, her second months later and will one day need a heart transplant.
For the first few months of her life, Jasmine lived with a breathing tube in one nostril and a feeding tube in the other. To this day, she still sleeps every night with an oxygen tank and goes to the doctor several times a month.
With the proper care, Jasmine Winning lives the happy life of a normal girl her age, but her parents’ fight with their insurance company has put their daughter’s life at risk with the fear they won’t be able to get her needed care.
“I didn’t know if she was going to make it to the next day,” Jasmine’s mom Joanna Joshua said. “I didn’t think beyond each day. It was so much and it was so overwhelming.”
With a combination of complex surgeries, lengthy hospitals stays, weeks of searching for proper feeding tubes, trying to maintain physicians and transporting her to her hospital in Sacramento, Jasmine has raked up over $3 million in medical bills.
“When you have a critically ill child, you’re living day to day on survival mode and if you have a $200,000 medical flight bill held over your head, it creates stress,” Joshua said.
Though these bills have been covered, an ongoing battle with a major national healthcare insurer has left Jasmine’s family afraid for their daughter’s life.
Joshua has filed 20 complaints with the Department of Insurance about their insurance company. Their family continues their plan under the insurer because Jasmine’s dad, Kyle Winning, owns his own business and gets his insurance on the individual market. The insurer was the only provider Jasmine’s surgeon takes, the family said.
In September, the health insurance provider told their family they would no longer offer their Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plan on the individual market.
After signing up for another plan but never receiving anything in writing after several requests, their insurer told their family they were enrolled in the wrong plan. Though this was corrected, the company never provided any documentation.
As a backup plan, the family bought a policy with another major insurer, but that coverage did not work outside of Southern California, which was ineffective because Jasmine had to travel out of the area for heart surgeries.
Meanwhile, the family continues to pay insurance company around $1,100 each month.
Jasmine is due for another treatment soon, but the insurance company said the family is past due on their payments even though the family says they are not.
“You want to be able to rock your child to sleep instead of rocking your child to sleep while screaming at your insurance company on the phone,” Joshua said.
While Joshua was corresponding with the Department of Insurance and their insurance company, she sent all messages to Congressman Steve Knight’s office as a plea for help.
Joshua talked to Knight (R-Palmdale) after attending his town hall in Santa Clarita on June 1, asking for a meeting to share her health care concerns and discuss possible legislation to be written to protect her daughter and others facing health care strife.
Knight agreed to meet with the family on June 19 to hear their story and try to get them help.
On Twitter as @ginaender