As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, October 08, 2009

The (Not So) Symbolic Middle Finger From The Insurance Industry

Here's a nice detail from an LA Times story about Hilda Sarkysian:

Surrounded by supporters, Hilda Sarkisyan marched into Cigna Corp.’s Philadelphia headquarters on a chilly fall day, 10 months after the company refused to pay for a liver transplant for her daughter.

"You guys killed my daughter," the diminutive San Fernando Valley real estate agent declared at the lobby security desk. "I want an apology."

What she got was something quite different.

Cigna employees, looking down into the atrium lobby from a balcony above, began heckling her, she said, with one of them giving her "the finger."

There's video of this confrontation. Check it around 3:40:

Sadly, this exchange is the only ledge on which the Sarkysians can hang a wrongful death lawsuit on CIGNA. A judge threw out the case on the basis of a 1987 ruling from the Supreme Court as well as ERISA (the Employee Retirement Income Security Act), which bars individuals from holding insurers of employer-paid health care plans responsible for their coverage decisions, but they can claim that the finger incident caused them "emotional distress." Even Hilda Sarkysian calls this absurd: "They kill a beautiful 17-year-old girl, and I get to go after them for a finger? That's sick."

But of course, the insurance industry sticks their proverbial middle finger up at the country every day, with plans that cost more every year for the same coverage, companies that rescind policies when patients want to use them, and byzantine rules that they use to get out of providing care. The only surprise about this gesture is that it's not one of the health insurer's corporate logos.

...Five more people were arrested at CIGNA HQ yesterday. I wonder how many of them were flipped the bird.

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