Teen Fights For Cancer Care from His Insurer

Armen Hareyan's picture
Teen in California fighting for health insurance coverage

"Our insurance company, PacifiCare, denied my brother Nick approval to go to Kansas City for a special treatment of radiation for his cancer (this could save his life). Nick has suffered with cancer for four years of his life, and he has exhausted every avenue to get better, but nothing worked. This is our last effort and this procedure has worked before with people in Nick's situation," said Ricky Colombo, Nick's older brother, of Placentia, Calif.

In the face of a national campaign on behalf of Nick Colombo, insurance giant PacifiCare reversed its decisions and agreed to critically needed cancer treatments for the 17-year-old. The decision came after the company was overwhelmed by calls organized by Nick’s friends and family, along with RNs from the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee, and Netroots activists.


But even with that wonderful effort, Nick's parents knew their son did not get what he needed as soon as he needed it because of the insurance denial. "The CyberKnife treatment recommended by his doctor was given the green light from PacifiCare after all the media attention. The doctors there were quite upset—they said that that they had never heard of Nick's case or the decision to deny treatment by USC-Norris. We said that PacifiCare had told us that USC didn't have a program to treat children. They said that only applied to infants and toddlers and they wished he could have been here sooner. They have treated tumors that are bigger than his with CyberKnife. The CyberKnife procedure will either kill the tumor or shrink it and make it sterile. His prognosis before the treatment was very grim," shared Nick's dad, Rick Colombo, Sr.

Read stories like Nick's every day through Election Day at: www.GuaranteedHealthcare.org
Sponsored by the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee

Eighty-two percent of Americans think the U.S. healthcare system should be fundamentally changed or completely rebuilt (Commonwealth Fund, Aug. 7, 2008). America's nurses know that only single- payer, improved and expanded Medicare for all will fix our broken system and the tragedy of our devastated families. HR 676 guarantees health coverage for everyone, assures choice of physician and hospital, controls costs, slashes administrative waste, and returns care decisions to patients and doctors, not insurance companies.

For more information, or to contact this patient/family: Donna Smith 312/915-4153 or Liz Jacobs 510/273-2232.