Being Denied the Right to Life
October 15, 2009 - 5:05pm ET
Innumerable, extremely sick Americans have heard the empty phrases “out of network” and “medically unnecessary,” from avaricious powerhouses that have usurped the lives of our fellow Americans. The current US health care system does not only plague the 47 million currently uninsured but also those with a health insurance plan.
One such example is Dawn Smith, a young woman who suffers from two brain tumors. Dawn has been continuously denied the medical care that doctors say is critical to save her life. Three doctors from three renowned health care systems in the metro Atlanta area informed Dawn that her “only chance for a cure was to see a specialist at Cleveland Clinic or Washington University’s Center for Advanced Medicine.” Yet, her health insurance company, CIGNA, has denied these essential treatments.
Dawn calls the insurance company callous and expresses her feeling of complete “insignificance,” when being repeatedly denied care after she was diagnosed with the brain tumors in 2005 and 2007. Dawn had religiously paid her insurance premiums for six years.
Dawn states in a letter she wrote to H. Edward Hanway, CEO of CIGNA, “Meanwhile, my symptoms worsen. Debilitating electric-shock-type pain racks my body and shoots through my head. I have sudden, painful seizures, sometimes knocking me to the ground. The seizure medications barely help, while their side effects ravage my body.”
Dawn has suffered from severe pain and the foreboding threat of death simply because these profit-driven insurance companies have decided that they don’t feel like forking over the cash to this critically ill patient. What a travesty!
To top it off, earlier this year CIGNA increased her monthly rate from $366.75 to $753.47, more than double the cost! Recently, Smith was also told that the co-pay on her anti-epileptic medicine was increasing from $10 every two-and-a-half months to $1,115. After receiving press attention, the cost was reduced back to where it was.
Dawn’s story is a harrowing representation of the everyday injustices caused by the greed of health insurance companies. Dawn states that during her fight she has met numerous others who have been denied care by their insurance companies and has begun a website (itcouldhappentoanyone.com) as a result.
Moveon.org, a political action committee, has joined Dawn in her fight for justice and demanded action. Consequently, CIGNA has now decided to pay attention to Dawn’s pleas after disregarding her for two years. CIGNA is now agreeing to fund some of Dawn’s necessary medical treatments and tests. Dawn will continue her campaign for health insurance reform by visiting Hanway in Philadelphia today and demanding that this doesn’t happen to her or other “CIGNA insureds” again. She asks people to stand with her in keeping the health insurance companies honest.
Shouldn’t the critically ill be placing all their limited energy towards recovering and not towards constantly struggling to receive necessary medical attention?
There is only one true solution to this question: a public health insurance option. Dawn states that if the public option were available, she could go to the specialists and get the treatments she needs.
Thankfully, some of our Congressional leaders who truly understand the narcissistic nature of these companies, such as Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, are in support of a public option:
The misleading and harmful claims made by the profit-driven insurance companies are politicking for corporate gain at its worst. ... Our focus in Congress must be on the inclusion of a public health insurance option in the marketplace to protect families by creating greater competition and driving down costs." -- Senator John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia.
It is imperative that the Senate reaches an agreement and decides to pass the public option. If not, more Americans will suffer from unnecessary emotional and physical anguish. Some will even loose their lives.
Take the case of Nataline Sarkysian, a 17-yr old girl with leukemia, for example. CIGNA delayed and denied her a liver transplant until public outcry intervened, however, by that time it was too late to save her.
When children pass away as the result of being denied life-saving treatment, it’s obvious that this entire situation has gone completely out of control!
Even more horrifying, when Nataline’s family went to Philadelphia to confront CIGNA they were taunted and given the middle finger. These people can’t really be THAT heartless. Or can they?
We’ll soon find out after Dawn Smith returns from Philadelphia. Mr. Hanway, perhaps this time you will finally listen? Fellow Americans, don’t hold your breath.
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Views expressed on this page are those of the authors and not necessarily those of Campaign for America's Future or Institute for America's Future