CIGNA Corporation or NYSE: CI is an American for profit health insurance company. The health care headquarters may be found in Bloomfield, Connecticut, while the corporate headquarters are located at Two Liberty Place in Center City Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. CIGNA additionally has a major presence in the Phoenix, AZ metro area with its full-service staff-model HMO with satellite clinics dispersed throughout the region. In California’s Office of the Patient Advocate Health Care Quality Report Card, CIGNA was rated 2 out of 4 stars in Meeting National Standards of Care and a very unfavourable 1 out of 4 stars in How Members Rate Their HMO. In U.S. News and World Report’s 2007 annual ranking of US commercial health plans, CIGNA’s highest and lowest rankings out of 250 rated plans are 18. New Hampshire and 198. California .
In December 2007, CIGNA was greatly criticized by hundreds of doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals after the company adamantly refused to pay for a liver transplant for a California teenage girl, Nataline Sarkisyan. They justified their refusal to pay by claiming that the procedure was “too risky”, despite the fact that there was a liver ready and waiting to be transplanted and doctors approximated that she had a 65% chance of surviving for at least 6 months. In response to massive protest and public scrutiny, CIGNA finally decided to reverse its decision, but not soon enough to save Ms. Sarkisyan who died while awaiting the transplant. CIGNA declared that it had no financial stake in the decision to authorize the transplant because it only administers the insurance plan of Mr. Sarkisyan’s employer and would not take on the cost of any operation. However, CIGNA was offering to pay for the transplant itself as an exception to the policy.
Even though liver transplants have been successfully performed since 1963 and are a widely accepted treatment option for end-stage liver disease and acute liver failure, CIGNA defended its actions by alleging that there was inadequate data to show that a transplant for a patient in Sarkisyan’s condition would be safe and effective. Lawyers for her family are still exploring litigation against CIGNA.
Recently the California court agreed with CIGNA’s position that the Sarkisyan’s claims regarding CIGNA’s decision making were invalid. On April 16, 2009, the United States District Court for the Central District of California subsequently dismissed all of the claims against CIGNA associated with the coverage determination. However, in October 2009, the Sarkisyan’s filed suit against CIGNA for the cruel response that the family got in 2008 when they visited CIGNA’s Philadelphia headquarters, where they were insulted by the firms’ employees, during which one CIGNA employee actually gave them the finger. Circuit Court Judge Gary Allen Feess ruled that the Sarkisyan’s could go ahead and file the suit for emotional distress caused by the incident.
Most recently, CIGNA has been the target of a well-publicized campaign to provide coverage for a cancer victim named Dawn. In 2005, Dawn was diagnosed with a rare, but treatable brain tumor. CIGNA did not approve her for treatment. Non-profit organizations such as MoveOn are currently fighting against CIGNA to enable Dawn’s treatment.