20071221 nataline sarkisyan 18
Nataline Sarkisyan, 17, lost a battle leukemia this morning after developing liver complications from a bone-marrow transplant. - 


Scott Jagow: A 17-year-old girl died at UCLA Medical Center last night. Heartbreaking enough. But her death has a lot of people upset with her insurance company. CIGNA refused to cover a liver transplant for her. Nancy Marshall Genzer tells us more.

Nancy Marshall Genzer: Nataline Sarkisyan had been battling leukemia. She developed complications from a bone-marrow transplant. That caused her liver to fail.

CIGNA said there was a lack of evidence that a transplant would help. The company changed its mind and said it would cover a transplant after protests yesterday organized by a California nurses' union. But Sarkisyan died before she could have the transplant.

Service Employees International Union President Andy Stern says her case is not unique.

Andy Stern: I think every day, people are getting rejected by their insurance company, being denied opportunities to get insurance because of pre-existing conditions. I think the system is rigged against the patient and for the insurance companies.

CIGNA isn't commenting on Sarkisyan's death. In a statement issued after the company agreed to cover the transplant, Cigna stressed the effectiveness of the procedure in Sarkisyan's case was still in question.

In Washington, I'm Nancy Marshall Genzer for Marketplace.