Teenager Dies After Insurance Company Balks at Transplant

Sometimes, the national healthcare scandal isn't limited to those without insurance; sometimes it's equally outrageous what happens to those with insurance. (thanks to LM for the tip)


The family of a 17-year-old girl who died hours after her health insurer reversed a decision and said it would pay for a liver transplant plans to sue the company, their attorney said Friday.
Nataline Sarkisyan died Thursday at about 6 p.m. at the University of California, Los Angeles Medical Center. She had been in a vegetative state for weeks, said her mother, Hilda.
Attorney Mark Geragos said he plans to ask the district attorney to press murder or manslaughter charges against Cigna HealthCare in the case. The insurer "maliciously killed her" because it did not want to bear the expense of her transplant and aftercare, Geragos said.
Nataline was battling leukemia -- she had received a bone marrow transplant from her brother -- but experienced liver failure as a complication from the treatment. Gigna reportedly balked at the cost of the transplant, calling the procedure "experimental" and outside the scope of coverage.

In the wake of the decision, 150 students and nurses protested at the company's offices. Cigna, apparently afraid of a public-relations nightmare, reversed course and said it would pay for the liver transplant.

But it was too late. Nataline died within hours of Cigna changing its mind about the procedure.
"They took my daughter away from me," said Nataline's father, Krikor, who appeared at the news conference with his 21-year-old son, Bedros.
Despite the reversal, Cigna said in an e-mail statement before she died that there was a lack of medical evidence showing the procedure would work in Nataline's case.
"Our hearts go out to Nataline and her family, as they endure this terrible ordeal," the company said. "CIGNA HealthCare has decided to make an exception in this rare and unusual case and we will provide coverage should she proceed with the requested liver transplant."
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