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Vet’s Wife Says Insurance Snafu Nixed Critical Operation

Army Cancels Surgery For Soldier's Wife 3:09

Patricia Zuniga's blood was drawn and her skin was prepped when she was told she couldn't have a breast lump removed because her health insurance through the army had expired 12 hours earlier.

“I feel scared. I have got two daughters,” the 41-year-old from Lakewood, Wash. told NBC affiliate King 5. “I am a young woman and I want to live.”

Zuniga's lump is benign but doctors nonetheless “wanted out,” she said, and surgery was set for January 27.

After serving for 13 years, her husband Robert left the military on July 30 — and was told his healthcare policy would last for six months.

Zuniga said she thought that meant until January 30 — and staff at The Madigan Army Medical Center escorted her to a conference room on the day of her surgery, the 27th, and told her it was off.

They were “right up front” about it, she said, recalling how they told her "Your benefits ended 12 hours ago."

Citing privacy laws, The Madigan Army Medical Center said in a statement that they could not discuss individual cases.

— Henry Austin