By Dana Kozlov

(CBS) – A Chicago man thought he was doing everything right. He was self- employed and  made sure he bought health insurance. He even upgraded his coverage.

But when he got cancer, all of his claims were denied.

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CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports.

Sam Bloechl, 29, is finally up and around again after spending the last year battling cancer. His Stage 4 Hon-Hodgkins lymphoma required radiation, chemo and a stem cell transplant.

Cancer survivor Sam Bloechl (CBS)

He went into his health battle with a new insurance policy, but came out almost $1 million in debt.

Bloechl upgraded to his new policy with Golden Rule, a United Healthcare company, in December 2016 after seeing a chiropractor for undiagnosed back pain. He says he told the insurance broker about the visits and she pushed the policy even though it had a pre-existing condition clause.

“I signed the policy because she got back on the phone and reassured me I’d be covered,” he says.

He got his cancer diagnosis a month later. After months of treatment and delayed claim payouts,  a letter saying all care was denied because of his pre-existing condition — that previously undiagnosed back pain.

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Bloechl’s girlfriend, Meg Connolly, said she was astounded and thought, “There’s no way this is actually happening.”

But it is. And after months of letters and calls, the bills still loom.

“It’s unfortunate that our health care system in the United State is just so tough to navigate and even if you have health insurance that you can ultimately be denied and not get the coverage that you desperately need,” Connolly says.

A United Healthcare spokesperson says Bloechl bought a short-term policy that does not cover pre-existing conditions. Doctors who reviewed his case decided his back pain qualified as a pre-existing condition and the denial is final.

Bloechl says his broker never told him it was a short term policy, and again assured him his back pain wouldn’t be an issue. He has one last appeal: to the state.

His broker could not be reached for comment.

A fundraising page has been set up for Bloechl.

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