The widower of a woman who died in 2018 after being stricken by medical problems overseas is suing Anthem Blue Cross Life and Health Insurance Co., alleging the company reneged on a contractual obligation to pay the $1.45 million cost to fly his wife of 34 years home to California from China for further treatment.
Robert Alley Sayre’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit was filed Thursday and seeks at least $1 million in damages.
An Anthem representative did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Sayre, now 63, of Roseville, married his late wife, Cynthia, in 1984. Twenty years later, their church asked the devout couple to visit China, where they opened an orphanage in 2005, according to the plaintiff.
“The Sayres poured most of their own savings and their small stipend into the orphanage,” his suit says.
In 2014, Cynthia Sayre was diagnosed with breast cancer and obtained treatment through Anthem at UC Davis Medical Center, according to the suit, which says she underwent a right breast lumpectomy, followed by a chemotherapy regimen.
After her third cycle of chemotherapy treatment in May 2014, she was diagnosed with chemotherapy induced-pneumonitis and her chemotherapy treatments were discontinued due to shortness of breath and the risk of developing a type of lung disease. She suffered from progressive pulmonary disease, including wheezing and shortness of breath, in the three years following her receiving chemotherapy, the suit states.
In March 2017, back in China assisting with the orphanage, Cynthia Sayre began experiencing shortness of breath and went to a local hospital and was treated and discharged, but her breathing problems worsened, the suit states.
The doctors in China recommended that she be transferred back to UC Davis Medical Center to obtain the level of medical care she needed, according to the suit. The physicians there together with her husband arranged for her to be flown the nearly 5,800 miles back to California using Aerocare Medical Transport System Inc., an international air ambulance transportation service that provides transportation and on-board medical care for critical care patients, the suit states.
“The transport to California likely extended Ms. Sayre’s life,” according to the complaint.
She initially improved after receiving treatment at UC Davis Medical Center, but died in January 2018, the suit states.
A claim was submitted to Anthem by Aerocare, but Sayre believes the insurer rejected the $1.45 million bill and that Aerocare will seek the money from him if Anthem does not change its position, according to his court papers.