A Texas mother is suing insurance provider Blue Cross Blue Shield after the company reportedly refused to fly her sick daughter home for surgery during a vacation in the Dominican Republic.
According to the Houston Chronicle, 6-year-old Isabella Tolentino fell sick with appendicitis during her family’s vacation abroad. The girl’s mother, University of Texas nurse Marissett Tolentino, made sure ahead of time that her daughter would be covered in case she became ill during the trip. So when Isabella began experiencing intense abdominal pain, her mother took her to the hospital.
At Hospiten Bavaro, Isabella was diagnosed with appendicitis. Marissett was planning to fly the girl home commercially so she could have surgery in the United States, but she decided to consult with Isabella’s pediatrician first. The doctor told Tolentino that she needed to be treated immediately and suggested Blue Cross Blue Shield fly her back on a private jet.
As you may expect, Blue Cross rejected this proposal. On top of that, Dominican doctors told Tolentino her daughter’s appendicitis was not an emergency. Blue Cross told her that an appendix removal was a routine procedure that the Dominican medical staffs were equipped to handle.
But something went wrong during surgery. Isabella’s breathing tube became clogged with blood and vomit, and she slipped into a coma. She was then transported from the Dominican Republic back to Miami where doctors declared her brain dead from a lack of oxygen. She was eventually taken off life support.
Tolentino and her husband filed a lawsuit against Blue Cross last week alleging that both the company’s refusal to fly her home and insistence on Tolentino having surgery in the Dominican Republic cost their daughter her life.
“Blue Cross Blue Shield was aware of the severity of Isabella’s condition, yet they knowingly delayed the process and placed administrative prerequisites above the urgency required to save Isabella's life,” the lawsuit says.
Tolentino spoke to the Houston Chronicle about the family’s lawsuit recently.
“I just thought, I’ve been paying all these premiums all these years and then when I really needed them, they wouldn't pay for an $18,000 flight,” Tolentino said. “I have to deal with the daily struggles of losing my child over something so stupid — them flying her home.”