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Mike Bryant
Mike Bryant
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Real Story Of Health Care Denial

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I recently got a email from MoveOn.Org. It was interesting and alarming to say the least:

I’m at the end of my rope. What CIGNA is doing to me is—well, it’s outrageous.

I have a brain tumor. Doctors are ready to help me. But CIGNA has been blocking me from getting testing and treatment for two years, while almost doubling my premiums.

Then, this week was the kicker. CIGNA’s pharmacy called to say that the co-pay on the medicine that helps control my debilitating head pain is skyrocketing from $10 to $1,115. That’s not a typo. They’re making me pay one hundred times what I’m paying now, in addition to my $753/month premium.

I can’t afford that. So when the pain comes, I won’t have any defense. I’ll spend hours in the fetal position, out of my mind with pain.

When my story went public a couple of weeks ago—with the help of over 100,000 MoveOn members—CIGNA said they would pay for a test I’d been asking for at Cleveland Clinic. It was a step in the right direction. But after two years of denials, and with a long course of treatment ahead of me, I knew better than to just take them at their word.

So I asked questions. But they wouldn’t offer any explanation for why they denied my coverage for so long, or any assurance that they had changed their procedures so I wouldn’t face the same unjust denials again. And I began to wonder if they were more interested in just sweeping my story under the rug than actually helping me.

When I got this latest news from CIGNA’s pharmacy on Tuesday, I kept asking myself, is this a mistake? Or is this happening because I went public with my case? Are other CIGNA customers receiving the same phone calls?

I used to give CIGNA the benefit of the doubt, but after years of unexplained denials, I’ve had enough. So I’m asking for your help again. For myself, and for everyone else who is suffering, I am asking CIGNA for answers.

And I think it would help if thousands of people like you were to join me in demanding them. I’m writing them a short letter with a simple question: Why? Can you add your name to my letter?

http://pol.moveon.org/dawn/?id=17402-5489780-L4fXb0x&t=1

Here’s what I’ve written to Dr. Jeffrey Kang, CIGNA’s Chief Medical Officer:

As you probably know, your company has denied me needed care for two years while I suffer from a debilitating but treatable brain tumor. I pay my $753.47 premiums. I follow the proper procedures. But CIGNA refuses to give me the care I need.

Instead, you keep increasing my prices. First my premiums rose by hundreds of dollars, and now my prescription costs are going up by more than 10,000%.

What makes you think you can treat sick people this way? When will you stop doing this to me and the thousands of people like me who are suffering? And if you solve this latest problem, how do I know you won’t do this to me again next week—that you’re actually changing your ways and not just trying to make your PR problem disappear?

Please answer these questions. I need to know, for the sake of my health and my life. Many others have signed this letter too, to support me and make sure I get answers.

Respectfully,
Dawn Smith

Thanks for all you’re doing. I don’t know where I’d be without MoveOn members’ help.

Most sincerely,
Dawn

It was from a woman who has been battling with Cigna for two years over coverage for her brain tumor. So I looked deeper into the story and saw that there has been some national press on the issue. That following her diagnosis four years ago, she has seen increases in her premiums , in her co pays and denial after denial after denial.

This is the story that needs to be talked about in the health care debate.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aiIBs0mZb9o&feature=player_embedded

My guess is that Cigna and the health care opponents won’t want to.