Nataline Sarkisyan, a 17 year old California resident, passed away on December 20, 2007, due to liver failure. She developed liver complications while recovering from a bone marrow transplant. The most remarkable part of this story is that her health insurance company, CIGNA, reversed a decision to pay for a liver transplant only hours before she passed away.
Nataline’s doctors wrote to CIGNA so that she could receive the transplant, and CIGNA determined that the procedure was experimental and not covered by the insurance she had. This is despite a 65% six month survival rate by patients who receive similar transplants.
This kind of treatment by an insurance company is reprehensible. There is no reason that an insurance company should get to decide what procedures are experimental or should be covered. Nataline’s doctor and care providers were all on the same page with what treatment was necessary to have the best chance to save her life. Typically, a doctor or other medical professional is the one that commits medical negligence, leading to injury or death. However, this case is a good example of how corporate negligence is just as dangerous when it comes to health care insurance.