Friday, September 25, 2009

CIGNA reverses course after public pressure

Posted By on Fri, Sep 25, 2009 at 3:22 PM

Last week, we posted a blog item called “CIGNA wants woman dead.” This is a new blog post related to that one. From

Last week, you were one of over 100,000 MoveOn members who stood with Dawn Smith to demand that CIGNA cover the treatment for her brain tumor.

CIGNA had been denying Dawn's requests for two years, but when she went public, with the help of MoveOn members across the country, CIGNA reversed course. They took the first step toward resolving Dawn's case — agreeing to pay for the test she needs to determine her treatment plan. By reversing their denials, CIGNA made it clear that they didn't think their decision would stand up to public scrutiny.

But they didn't offer any explanation for all the previous denials. And they didn't guarantee that they'll approve the next step in Dawn's treatment. And for all we know, they're still doing this same thing to thousands of other people whose stories haven't caught national attention.

That's why Dawn is insisting that CIGNA explain the policies that led them to deny her care for so long. And — for herself and all the others who are suffering — she's demanding proof that they're changing those policies so this never happens again.

Dawn recorded a short message for the MoveOn members who are standing with her. Can you watch the video and then pass it on so that even more folks stand with Dawn?

Since Dawn went public, we've heard from hundreds of others who have been hurt by CIGNA. The stories range from simply frustrating to absolutely heartbreaking. If you or someone you know has been denied needed coverage by CIGNA, or by another insurance company, please share your story with us.

All of these stories paint a picture of an insurance company that, as one former CIGNA executive pointed out, has every incentive to deny coverage.

* In the case of Nataline Sarkisyan, CIGNA denied a liver transplant — reversing themselves only when public pressure became too intense. Unfortunately, their decision came too late for Nataline, who died.

* Christopher Hanna told us the story of his wife's battle — she had to spend "hours every week browbeating [CIGNA] over the phone," fighting to get treated for the ovarian cancer that would eventually take her life.

* And of the stories we heard, there were a stunning number where CIGNA authorized a procedure but then came up with an excuse — any excuse at all — to not pay.

It's clear that Dawn's experience with CIGNA isn't unique — in fact, it isn't even out of the ordinary. And even though CIGNA would love for Dawn to just go away, she isn't backing down. She's demanding answers and proof that CIGNA is changing their policies so that their mistreatment of her and their other customers comes to an end.

P.S. If you have a story about CIGNA or another insurance company denying needed care to you or someone you know, please share it with us.

P.P.S. To read more about Dawn's struggle, check out her blog.

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