Seventeen-year-old Nataline Sarkisyan was suffering from leukemia, and developed complications. Because of this, she needed a liver transplant. Or so her doctors said. But that was not good enough for her insurance company, CIGNA Healthcare.
CIGNA decided that the transplant was unnecessary. Their reasoning? There was not enough evidence that the transplant would help Nataline--despite the fact that the doctors treating her judged that it would.
Curiously enough, CIGNA bureaucrats changed their minds about the efficacy of the transplant after a large protest outside their offices in Glendale, CA. If CIGNA truly believed that the transplant was useless on the merits of the medical evidence, one wonders why the protests would have changed their minds. No amount of protesters can alter the facts, after all. It is almost enough to make you think that their decision to deny Nataline the transplant was based on something other than medical evidence, and that they reversed their decision because the bad publicity made it convenient for them to do so.
Sadly, the reversal came too late for Nataline, who died on Thursday December 20th.
Significantly, there is no hint that CIGNA will change their general policy about such situations. In a statement, they made it clear that their reversal of the denial in this case was an aberration:
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
So the next CIGNA-insured family with a child who needs a transplant must hope that they, too, will be able to rally over a hundred protesters to their cause.