Byron York

Dunham decided to stay in Jakarta, where she underwent an appendectomy. But the pain did not go away, and Dunham feared, correctly, that she was terribly ill. In January 1995, she left Indonesia to go home to Honolulu, where she was diagnosed with advanced uterine and ovarian cancer. She began a regime of surgery and chemotherapy.

That is the time during which Obama says his mother battled insurance companies to cover her illness. But Scott, who had access to Dunham's correspondence from the time, reveals that Dunham unquestionably had health coverage. "Ann's compensation for her job in Jakarta had included health insurance, which covered most of the costs of her medical treatment," Scott writes. "Once she was back in Hawaii, the hospital billed her insurance company directly, leaving Ann to pay only the deductible and any uncovered expenses, which, she said, came to several hundred dollars a month."

Scott writes that Dunham, who wanted to be compensated for those costs as well as for her living expenses, "filed a separate claim under her employer's disability insurance policy." It was that claim, with the insurance company CIGNA, that was denied in August 1995 because, CIGNA investigators said, Dunham's condition was known before she was covered by the policy.

Dunham protested the decision and, Scott writes, "informed CIGNA that she was turning over the case to 'my son and attorney, Barack Obama.'" CIGNA did not budge.

In September 1995, Dunham traveled to New York for an evaluation at the renowned Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Returning to Hawaii, she began a new course of treatment. She died in November.

A dozen years later, her son turned her ordeal into a campaign pitch for national health care. But the story Obama told, Scott writes, was "abbreviated" -- the abbreviation was to leave out the fact that Ann Dunham had health insurance that paid for her treatment. "Though he often suggested that she was denied health coverage because of a pre-existing condition," Scott writes, "it appears from her correspondence that she was only denied disability coverage."

That's a different story altogether. One the president never told.


Byron York

Byron York, chief political correspondent for The Washington Examiner