Let’s Keep Brandon Boyer Alive For Lots Longer

By John Walker on March 7th, 2014 at 4:00 pm.

If you don’t know the name Brandon Boyer, then you’ll certainly have benefited from the incredible work he’s done and continues to do for indie gaming. He’s been the brains behind sites like Gamasutra, Offworld, and now Venus Patrol. He writes for champions of good, Boing Boing, and is no less than the chairman of the Independent Games Festival. He also has cancer, and a health insurance company that’s refusing to pay for his vital treatment. We rather want to keep him alive – you can help with that. You can even get some very cheap games in the process.

Boyer’s situation is extremely serious. Last year he was diagnosed with cancer, and given emergency surgery to remove a few feet of his small intestine, and a portion of his liver. This meant he got to stay alive. However, in order to stay that way, he needs consistent treatment. And his health insurance company are refusing to pay a cent.

Humana, for it is they, have decided to exploit a grotesque loophole and claim that Boyer’s stating he had stomach aches in the past, prior to his purchasing health insurance, invalidates his claim and proves that stomach and liver cancer could have been diagnosed earlier. Stomach aches. Stomach aches, like every human alive has experienced in the last five years, and obviously not considered worthy of a trip to the doctor and exploratory surgery. Based on this, they are refusing to pay toward the hundred thousand dollar bill Boyer has already run up, nor any ongoing vital treatment for the cancer.

We can do something about this mess. Boyer has had the humility to create a fundraising page to allow people to donate toward his epic bills, and you can go stick in a few bucks right now.

And superbly, Devolver and Humble have put up a bundle that lets you direct your payment directly toward Boyer’s campaign, and pick up a bundle of games in the process. In there you’ll get Duke Nukem 3D Megaton Edition and Shadow Warrior Classic Redux, along with three movies, Austin High, The Poisoning, and One Couch At A Time. Make your donation $10 or higher and you’ll also get Defense Technics, and debut game Cosmic DJ, along with movies Good Game (also a debut) and MARS. And for some reason you’ll also be punished with a copy of Marc Ecko’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure. You can split your funds between lunatic publisher Devolver, Humble, a film making initiate called The Collaborative, and of course Boyer’s fund.

Why Brandon Boyer, when clearly countless Americans are in similar conditions? Because he’s a man that’s made a difference to so many PC gamers. His enthusiasm and support for indie games surpasses all others, and the years of coverage, promotion and celebration he’s provided have enriched our lives, and literally those of many indie developers. The IGFs, for all the controversy they generate, and perhaps because of it, has been responsible for so much good in gaming, and has become bigger and stronger under Boyer’s watch. He’s one of the Good Guys. We don’t want to lose him.

For those wondering, yes, the rules have changed in the States, and medical insurance companies can no longer fuck over human beings in this most despicable of ways via the Health Insurance Marketplace. However, this only counts for cases starting after January 2014. Boyer’s diagnosis was in 2013, and as such, he’s left horrendously screwed. But let’s help make a difference. Let’s help that goal of $110,000 look like a blip in the distance, ensuring Boyer has the funds for continuous treatment over many years to come.

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56 Comments »

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  1. Ergates_Antius says:

    American health insurance companies – officially worse than cancer.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      The only reason our insurance companies are better is because we make them. Even then, they’re pretty bad and not trustworthy.. well, we can trust them to line their own pockets.

      -edit- Donated.

      • Ergates_Antius says:

        I guess the most important difference is that you don’t have to rely on them for life-saving treatment. So their money-grabbing dishonesty doesn’t kill people.

        • Kitsunin says:

          All they’re required/supposed to do if you go to the emergency room without insurance is stabilize you. So if you have a chronic condition that never gets treated beyond what it takes to not die now, sooner or later it’s going to be too little, too late, and their money-grabbing will have killed you.

          • Ergates_Antius says:

            Come live over here. Pinko commie socialist NHS 4tw.

          • MadTinkerer says:

            Yeah, worst that will happen is that everyone will imagine an outbreak of a disease that’s impossible for humans to get, because no one but that American kid bothered to remember that there was already a documentary that explained everything. All that will happen is that millions of pounds of damage will be done and dozens of British farmers will lose their livelihood (over what’s basically a rumor gone out of control), the documentary definitely won’t ever be rerun, and the real cause of the actual human disease in question won’t go acknowledged. Because who cares about agriculture or medicine enough to listen to the American kid and look up what “prion” means. He’s not even British!

            And that’s why the NHS can go fuck itself.

          • Ergates_Antius says:

            Yes, because obviously documentary makers are the sole source of accurate scientific and medical knowledge and know better than all those doctors etc.

            Oh, and people who saw something on TV once. They also know more than all the doctors and scientists too – mustn’t forget about them.

    • Premium User Badge

      Gap Gen says:

      Has Obamacare banned this kind of non-coverage, or is there some legal nuance that means that they can still do this?

      • Ergates_Antius says:

        Apparently so: “For those wondering, yes, the rules have changed in the States, and medical insurance companies can no longer fuck over human beings in this most despicable of ways via the Health Insurance Marketplace. However, this only counts for cases starting after January 2014

        • thecommoncold says:

          I, for one, have unlimited faith in the ability of insurance companies to continue to “fuck over human beings in this most despicable of ways” regardless of what the law says. Only now, people are legally obligated to buy their product. What a treat.

          • Grygus says:

            I think you mean, “legally allowed.” If your solution is to simply go without insurance, you are bad at math.

          • thecommoncold says:

            “Obligated” is perhaps bad word choice, but “allowed” is worse, considering one was always allowed to purchase insurance. “Buy a private product or be fined/taxed/penalized by force of law” is still closer to an obligation, IMHO, and smacks of cronyism regardless, so forgive me if I’m skeptical.

            As for the bad at math comment: (1) Insurance companies are profitable because most people pay more than what they get out of it. For many people, not buying insurance is the mathematically optimal choice, though many of those people still buy in for reasons of risk management and peace of mind, which they have deemed more valuable than simple mathematical optimization. (2) Please don’t insult my intelligence. RPS is full of nice people, so let’s try to keep it that way. Civil debates are more fun anyway.

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            The problem seems to be they have too much power. The input from doctors seems unimportant, if they can find some tiny little small print to avoid paying they will do it. Unlike the medical profession they have zero compassion towards people, they are all thinking no further than their year end bonus. While they are no different to any other insurance company, it is far more sinister when they are part of an industry making lots of money from peoples desire to NOT DIE.
            There needs to be some form of neutral control board to mediate these companies so they cannot just make things up in order to screw money out of people at the expense of their health/life.

          • groggyrat says:

            > thecommoncold says:
            > Insurance companies are profitable because most people pay more than what they get out of it.
            > For many people, not buying insurance is the mathematically optimal choice,

            Ah, if it were only so! Sadly, you’re ignoring the fact that insurance-companies have cartel-like bargaining power with healthcare providers. So a person who walks in off the street might pay for a treatment as much as 5 or 10 times what the insurance company pays. This means that for just about everyone, buying insurance *is* the mathematically optimal choice (at least with a decent group plan), because of healthcare providers legally-sanctioned price-gouging.

            The way to solve this is, of course, anti-cartel laws that will require hospitals to set a standard tariff with no discounts to insurance companies, but leave it to insurance lobbyists to make sure that doesn’t happen.

    • ucfalumknight says:

      Yes, There is a very special place in hell for Health Insurance executives and Lawyers. I required intensive rehabilitation after I was diagnosed with MS. The insurance company denied my claim based on the fact it was “a recurring condition”, even after my Neurologist AND general doctor said I needed it. Glad I pay for something and don’t get to use it.

    • bjohndooh says:

      Had cancer twice. can confirm.
      The envelope in the mail still triggers fear until I can open it and confirm that’s it’s just a regular bill.

  2. meatfork says:

    “And for some reason you’ll also be punished with a copy of Marc Ecko’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure”
    C’mon guys. Don’t insult people donating stuff to ya.

    • John Walker says:

      It’s not a donation, Devolver are profiting from this too.

      • Michael Anson says:

        Well, technically, Devolver are really only profiting from this if you let them. We CAN choose to send our entire donation to Mr. Boyer for his cancer treatments.

        • utingme says:

          Alex of Humble Bundle here – yup! You can set all proceeds to Brandon – excess will go to some cancer research or to cover random follow-up fees for Brandon, too. We’re still figuring it out with Brandon and cooking something else up :)

          Devolver really is being generous – they are the ones that chose to set Brandon’s fund as a charity in the first place!

      • kalirion says:

        I actually didn’t even notice that bundle had Brandon Boyer as it’s “charity” until I read this article. Was gonna skip that one alltogether, but seems I’ll be getting it (and setting 100% to charity.)

  3. Dux Ducis Hodiernus says:

    >2014
    >not having public healthcare

    • Geebs says:

      Before you make this about Them vs. Us, bear in mind that the Americans are also more aggressive with treatment and that this chap might have been in a condition which wouldn’t even have been operated on in the UK. So, show your support but feel free to leave the unsubstantiated snark out of it.

      (Uk resident, public health fo life yo)

      • Premium User Badge

        jrodman says:

        I think it’s fair to call the US style system definitely worse. With a universal coverage goal you can typically identify things far earlier leading to fewer people needing such treatments.

        But yes, there are always some tradeoffs in healthcare, you can’t do everything for everyone.

        The whole thing where we have profit driven corps that in people’s time of greatest need just refuse to provide the coverage that they’re paid to provide is the mind boggling part. Luckily the worst of that was fixed by Obama’s health care work.

        But probably this isn’t the ideal context for my political stumping.

        Mostly this just makes me mad in so many ways. I can’t fund punishing the guilty company to disincentive them from pulling such crap. I also can’t possibly afford to similarly help out everyone who deserves it. I guess I should be glad that I got an opportunity to help make a difference. Today.

        • frightlever says:

          The US system, without question, keeps people alive longer. Given the choice, most US doctors prefer not to use that system and would rather die in a sea of meds than undergo incremental procedures which absolutely extend life, but not necessarily the quality of life. Those same doctors have to work under a system where failing to keep someone alive is regarded as failure, when sometimes it’s the best option.

          My old man died of prostate cancer a few years back. He actually kept it secret from most of the family for a long time, which was actually uncharacteristic because he was the biggest whinge in the world. From when it became public knowledge to his eventual death seemed like an eternity. It’s one of those things that our family looks back on as if we all survived a plane crash or something.

          Every day was an ordeal. We had to find somewhere to care for him, because my mother was just a couple of years younger than him and the house he built in the seventies, back when split-level was a thing and skeleton staircases were cool, so it wasn’t exactly pensioner-friendly. Seriously, you have no idea. He could not have designed a more senior-unfriendly house if he tried.

          So he enters the care home system. There are great people there and there are people doing a job. I would rather have an overdose injection than undergo what he underwent, and he wanted it . He wanted to keep going right until the end, but he wasn’t shy about telling us why we weren’t helping.

          Hmm. End of Life care is a tricky subject. Sometimes the family wants to extend life beyond what would be best for the patient, sometimes the patient is so afraid of death that they don’t care how it affects the family. These aren’t equal things, in any just system, but they are things.

          To an extent I think my old man was afraid of death because he hadn’t lived well. Oh, he had lived WELL. But he hadn’t lived reasonably.

          First time I visited my dad in the hospital, a couple of months before he died, the nurse there immediately conscripted me into helping him with his sheets. Jesus. The moaning and screaming and whining about his back and his foot and his ulcers. I figure he had worn out any reserve of sympathy that a well-balanced medical professional would hope to have. So, me, a lumbering clod, was left to lift him while his sheets were straightened. And he clung to my neck and I cupped the back of his knees and his shoulders while he moaned and keened and the nurse straightened his bed.

          And that was the point I lost all respect for him. He nearly blinded me once while I was gathering up after he chainsawed saplings from the “lawn”. I expressed the opinion that maybe he shouldn’t just be throwing lumber wherever and he told me that “yard work” is like boxing and that “I should learn to defend myself like a man”. In my head I imagined that sleeping is like “boxing” and that he should learn to defend himself, but nothing came of that.

          If you’re no longer able to defend yourself, are you a man? I think so. If all you can do is blame someone else and cry, are you a man?

          I care more about Brandon Boyer than my Dad so I guess I’ll chip in.

          I like boingboing a lot, but I can’t say I’ve ever read his name in the last few years.

          • kemryl says:

            My most sincere sympathies, but considering the content of your post and the site you posted it on, I think you really ought to seek therapy to help you come to terms with that unfortunate situation. Reading it caused a surreal and unpleasant feeling; we RPS readers aren’t the ones who should know that story nor can we make anything better. It is not really normal to provide information that detailed and personal to strangers. Do keep an open mind to the possibility that you could benefit from help and that a professional could provide it.

          • Premium User Badge

            jrodman says:

            It’s an unsettling post. But I don’t think it’s terribly weird to meditate on this kind of thing in the face of an unsettling story like this.

            Being through an experience like that, though, I think therapy is probably appropriate regardless of post or no post.

      • Palindrome says:

        It almost certainly would have been operated on in the UK given that he is still alive at least 3 months later. When the NHS says that there is nothing that they can do, they mean it.

        Quite simply profit driven healthcare is evil.

      • Premium User Badge

        Gap Gen says:

        More aggressive treatment isn’t always better – I get that NICE has to make cost choices and often cuts drugs that work simply because they’re too expensive, but equally sometimes insurance-funded doctors will make unnecessary treatments as they get paid per treatment. I don’t know if this is related, but in France to take part in a sporting event you have to get your doctor to sign off on it, whereas in the UK you just sign a form saying “I promise if I die it’s my fault.”

        • Geebs says:

          NICE is actually amazingly good at what it does. That “postcode lottery” crap you see in the news is frequently directly transcribed from pharma press releases by journalists who don’t know what they’re talking about.

          That thing with the French getting your doctor to sign off on sports is insurance liability and payola, not medicine…

          And yeah, I’m aware that not going for surgery may be the best option depending on case. I was pointing out that They Do Things Differently There and that individual circumstances mean that commenting on an entire society on that basis is dumb knee-jerking

      • Ooops says:

        Unless it’s been changed dramatically during the last years, I believe the UK national Health System and its waiting lists are not exactly the envy of the rest of the old continent.

        • Palindrome says:

          If you need an urgent appointment, you will get one. With everything else then you will have to wait. At least everyone will get one though, no matter how much money they have.

          • Exuro says:

            Exactly this. Waiting lists are done on priority. Got a pain, and they even SUSPECT that it could be cancer? You will have an appointment within a week. It’s not a perfect system, but one should never forget that the option for private healthcare still exists in the UK. If you can afford it, feel free. The only major difference is that if we need a life saving treatment that costs incomprehensible sums of money, we damned sure get it.

            From the age of 4 until 18 I required ongoing medical treatment for a growth hormone deficiency caused by an underdeveloped pituitary gland. As well as causing my growth to be stunted, I couldn’t eat and was severely malnourished. I couldn’t even walk most of the time until I was about 8. Without the NHS paying the hundreds of thousands of pounds it cost, I wouldn’t have been able to get that treatment.

            It may have its issues, but everyone gets seen, and it is always done based on severity. And if you can afford health insurance, the option is still there.

        • Premium User Badge

          Harlander says:

          A lot of the NHS’s problems come from politicians sticking their oar in and imposing stuff. On the other hand, politicians sticking their oar in and imposing stuff is how the NHS got started, so it’s swings and roundabouts, I guess

      • Premium User Badge

        Lamb Chop says:

        We are often more aggressive with treatment largely based on a fee-for-service model and negotiated NDA agreements with private suppliers of medical devices, which drives up costs an insane amount see $13k for knee surgery in belgium $100k in the US. These same companies will get representatives in the operating room who can essentially upsell you on components in the middle of a surgery. It’s insane when you look into it, and despite our free market leanings, as anti-competitive as it comes.

        In places like La Crosse, WI, they’ve driven down healthcare costs an incredible amount largely by discussing end of life care openly and allowing the patient to pre-plan for their own death. Not only does it give patients additional choice, it also drastically cuts costs.

        People who actually work in it are trying hard to reform the model but most major decisions about the incentive structures have to happen at the policy level, which means politics and ideology gets involved. Nobody’s under the illusion that our system works better for anyone except the private device suppliers, pharmaceutical companies, and for-profit hospitals, but the politics of it are basically unrelated to its effectiveness. The more I learn, the more depressed I get.

    • Grimwood says:

      Indeed. Wealth-based health privilege is disgusting at its very root.

      • Premium User Badge

        jrodman says:

        I prefer the general health system to be basically socialized medicine. However, I’m not really upset if the megawealthy are permitted to pay for specialized care that isn’t otherwise possible. Maybe it’s possible to effectively help transform theoretical measures into practical ones?

        That said, my personal politics is that fiscal policy should work against the wealth concentration trends which create megawealthy, so long as it enriches society as a whole (which I also believe is readily achieved).

  4. unangbangkay says:

    This story should be forwarded not just to the gaming press but out to the world at large, if nothing else to underscore the despicable, yet tragically legal behavior of Boyer’s insurance provider.

    Seriously, this gets me real steamed since I’ve also had insurance denied on similarly petty grounds. I developed epilepsy in 2004, as a minor, and insurance providers refused to cover me, saying a possible head injury I suffered – when I was five years old and living in a different country – reflected willful neglect on MY part. It was only due to a California state program not unlike Obamacare today that was able to force a private provider to give me an insurance plan – for rates that would’ve supported the premiums of a regular family of five.

    Eventually the costs of epilepsy medication (and its impact on my living expenses) forced me to emigrate out of the US to live with family abroad, so it could be argued that America’s broken healthcare system effectively ran one of its own citizens out of the country. That’s how fucked up this is.

    TL;DR US Healthcare sucks, donate to Boyer pls

    • Evil Pancakes says:

      I was going to make a snarky comment about how the US healthcare system is the best in the world because politicians and “experts” always say it is, and direct to yesterday’s broadcast of the daily show where they had a funny item about just that. But then I felt bad because it seemed kind of insensitive to post that.
      So instead I am making this post and donating 10 euros to make up for my being an insensitive prick.

  5. rapchee says:

    this is so disgusting. i mean what person does it take to make a decision like this at a HEALTH insurance company?

    • unangbangkay says:

      It’s actually quite easy. Ever play Papers, Please?

      • Premium User Badge

        Rizlar says:

        Papers, Please: American Healthcare Edition. *shudders and throws up*

    • The_B says:

      Not to derail this post too much as quite rightly as some have pointed out this should be about doing an awesome thing for Brandon who’s done such awesome things for us but – it does sadden me to hear things like this happening to good people and then in a few months some people on the internet will say EA is the worst company in America. :(

      • TechnicalBen says:

        Don’t feel bad at those voting EA the worse. You see, the real “bad guys” don’t leave anyone left to vote for them. :(
        That’s the thing that’s missed when ever someone makes a remark about how “EA are never the worse”, we know that, the real “worse” are so because they get away/hide/leave no one to take action towards them.

  6. Premium User Badge

    Wowbagger says:

    Donated, passed on, off to play shadow warrior.

  7. Premium User Badge

    jrodman says:

    From what I’m reading here, there isn’t a real hope of beating it either. It sounds like the treatment is to mitigate, which means probably it’s assumed that killing off the cancer is no longer really on the cards.

    That’s bleak enough as it is, but as I understand things there will be no coverage for future treatments.

    I sure hope this results in more funding than expected.

    • The Random One says:

      Few cancers ever go away completely. The chance of a relapse is always there. Brandon’s case seems to be going exceptionally well, all things considered.

      • Premium User Badge

        jrodman says:

        True, but people often strive and hope for that unlikely outcome.

        This sounds more resigned. It might be realistic but I still find it bleak.

        I guess we all have our time left to us, I just am not mature enough to look it in the eye yet.

      • Tekrunner says:

        I believe that being fairly young is not a big help for cancer either, as opposed to most conditions. A faster and more active metabolism can mean faster developing and more resistant tumors. Your body is stronger than an older person’s, sadly a cancer is basically your body turning against itself.

        Anyway, good luck Brandon. I hope you didn’t read this post.

  8. derbefrier says:

    As someone with a close friend who was in a work related incident that got him electrocuted very badlyall I can say is insurance companies are some of the biggest piece of shits out there thew dity underhanded tactics they pull are imaginable to people like us with a conscience. Good luck to this guy he is sure gonna need it. Oh and don’t think obama care will fix all this it wont

  9. rustybroomhandle says:

    OK, going to try this here too since I can hardly even get a retweet on this – maybe people just don’t care, but anyway.

    Raleigh Holmes, the voice of Erica Reed, also known as the daughter of Jane Jensen and Robert Holmes, is also trying to raise funds for cancer treatment. Ovarian cancer in this case, and she’s just 24.

    Perhaps also consider helping there?
    http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/rally-for-raleigh-/140620

  10. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    That bundle came in useful for me, because gofundme only accepts payments through credit cards, and that’s a no-go for me (I have a credit card, but I don’t use it on the internet, with very few exceptions). Humblebundle accepts Paypal, as always, and it is possible to donate all the money to Boyer by manipulating the sliders.

  11. Ooops says:

    If TV has taught me one thing, it’s that in such cases, one can always start producing meth.

    Seriously though, I can only wish him a prompt recovery and I hope he can afford optimal treatment with this bundle. This really shouldn’t happen to anyone. And if it absolutely must happen, it should target those that opposed universal healthcare instead.

  12. FurryLippedSquid says:

    Your room-mates mother-in-law making a donation?

  13. Ergates_Antius says:

    Looks like the initial goal has been met. So hurrah for that.

    Sad though, that someone has to rely on the kindness of strangers to, y’know, not die.