October 9, 2009

(h/t David N)

One of the things that you can never anticipate fully before becoming a parent is the absolute ferocity of the instinct to protect your child. It's innate, feral, and so deep that it can actually scare you. I am profoundly grateful every day that my children were born healthy, but I know that should my luck run out and one of my kids develop some sort of life-threatening illness, there is no stone I would leave unturned in my quest to save my child. There is no length I wouldn't go for my babies.

And if all those efforts were in vain, I don't know how I'd survive the loss of my child. I had a miscarriage some years back, and I carried that loss like a huge, gaping wound inside me for so long. And that was for a child with whom I never got a chance to know or develop a real bond.

Now imagine how Hilda Sarkisyan feels. The daughter she bore, raised and nurtured for seventeen years dies just hours before the insurance company she battled finally relented to give her daughter the liver transplant she needed. Can you imagine that grief, that anger at how unnecessary Nataline's death was? All the obstacles placed in their way by a for-profit insurance company in addition to just missing Nataline had to be paralyzing in its pain.

Which makes how CIGNA employees treated Hilda Sarkisyan so much more contemptible:

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."

Sarkisyan walked out, stunned and hurt.

"They showed me their true colors," she said. "Shame on them."

This woman has just gone through a pain I wouldn't wish on anyone--watching her child die needlessly--because CIGNA decided there wasn't enough of a cost-benefit to them to authorize a liver transplant. A for-profit insurance agency acted as a de facto death panel, opting to let this child die. Got that, GOP? There's the death panel you fear-monger. But they're not some hypothetical used to scare Grandma and Grandpa, they're REAL and some day, they may decide that you--or worse, your child--are not worth the cost of saving.

And don't be surprised if they show their heartlessness by heckling you and flipping you off when you walk in their doors to ask why.

And as if on cue, here comes Fox News, defending CIGNA:

Dear God, where's the humanity?

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