Monday, October 5, 2009
Shameless Corporation of the Week Award
This weeks Shameless Health Care Corporation is Cigna. This story involves two identical twin girls who developed cancer at age 4. They were treated with total body radiation and chemotherapy which damaged the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. Those glands are responsible for growth and their endocrinologists determined that they needed growth hormone at age 7 when the damage was evident. Growth hormone is only needed until the bone endplates have developed.
During this time, their dad's employer switched insurance carriers from Aetna to Cigna. Cigna did a medical review and determined that the girls simply had "idiopathic short stature" and did not need growth hormone. Despite letters and "peer to peer" consults with their endocrine specialists, Cigna would not budge and refused to pay for the drug they were receiving.
According to the girls mother, the proactive physicians are very used to dealing with insurance companies and managed to get the drugs free from the manufacturer as a "bridge" because stopping growth hormone stops growth.
Cigna even denied that there was a 2nd twin and they have denied that the parents have appealed the decision.
Cigna certainly wins our award this week for its reckless, shameless behavior as a health insurance company.
Posted by Toni Brayer, MD at 7:35 AM