This case illustrates what can happen when you have a health care system based on nothing but profits. This 17 year old was originally denied a liver transplant by her cold hearted, money grubbing insurance company, CIGNA. They changed their mind when it started to become a public relations nightmare, but it was too late. Now after she has died, the parents are suing. This type of denial, on the basis that the treatment was "experimental" was brought up Michael Moore in SICKO, as he pointed out that insurance companies use the "experimental" excuse frequently to avoid paying for expensive treatments.
http://www.courierpostonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071221/NEWS01/71221004Family to sue insurer in transplant case
LOS ANGELES -- 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.
District Attorney spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons declined to comment on the request for murder or manslaughter charges, saying it would be inappropriate to do so until Geragos submits evidence supporting his request.
Phone calls to CIGNA officials Friday were not immediately returned.
Nataline had been battling leukemia and received a bone marrow transplant from her brother. She developed a complication that caused her liver to fail.
Doctors at UCLA determined she needed a transplant and sent a letter to Cigna Corp.'s Cigna HealthCare on Dec. 11. The Philadelphia-based health insurance company denied payment for the transplant, saying the procedure was experimental and outside the scope of coverage.
The insurer reversed the decision Thursday as about 150 teenagers and nurses rallied outside of its office. But Nataline died hours later.
"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."
In their letter, the UCLA doctors said patients in situations similar to Nataline's who undergo transplants have a six-month survival rate of about 65 percent.
One of the doctors, Robert Venick, declined to comment on Nataline's case when reached at his office Friday.