More On Nataline Sarkisyan and CIGNA
CIGNA is in a public relations morass from which it can never emerge regardless of what details may later be revealed. A lawsuit against them over this issue will be perceived as all but indefensible and will surely result in a settlement with many zeros. There is no way that such a lawsuit's merits will ever be tested. Unlike CIGNA, this family's attorney has very little to lose from a courtroom battle.
People's minds are made up and will in most cases be impervious to change. The facts of this case are unquestionably grim but can those advocating the public hangings at least imagine the possibility that some technologies may in fact be futile or at best experimental? And if such is the case, can these individuals not recognize the grotesque opportunity costs such expenses represent?
Every dollar spent represents a dollar that could have been spent elsewhere. Everything in medicine and economics is a tradeoff.
For a more reasoned perspective on this case, check out InsureBlog's assessment.
Personally, I think one of the biggest mistakes CIGNA may have made was giving in to the public relations consequences and actually approving the procedure (belatedly). I saw an internal memo posted publicly by a single blog and was hesitant to cite it (being unable to find it elsewhere). Apparently however, it has now been posted by CIGNA itself and it is rather revealing. A quote:
Based on the unique circumstances of this situation, and although it was outside the scope of the plan’s coverage and despite the lack of medical evidence regarding the effectiveness of such treatment, CIGNA decided to make an exception. CIGNA did not reverse the clinical determination that the member’s plan did not cover the transplant.To me, this is very telling and the implication is that families capable of mobilizing public support will fare better before CIGNA than those not so savy regardless of medical realities. They've all but admitted that the decision to capitulate was based not on science but on emotion.
It's very sad what this says to other CIGNA subscribers who may in the future have their requests for expensive interventions rejected.