Insurance companies usually scrutinize policyholders who have been diagnosed with a life-threatening illnesses. From a strict cost perspective, that’s just good business: the company needs to make sure its most expensive patients are making fair claims.
But sometimes, that’s just a ruse to unfairly cut costs.
A new report from Reuters says that Assurant Health targeted patients recently diagnosed with HIV, sometimes denying them coverage based on technicalities or for no reason at all.
Reuters: Previously undisclosed records from Mitchell’s case reveal that Fortis [now Assurant Health] had a company policy of targeting policyholders with HIV. A computer program and algorithm targeted every policyholder recently diagnosed with HIV for an automatic fraud investigation, as the company searched for any pretext to revoke their policy.
As was the case with Mitchell, their insurance policies often were canceled on erroneous information, the flimsiest of evidence, or for no good reason at all, according to the court documents and interviews with state and federal investigators.
The Reuters investigation notes that government regulators and investigators who have overseen the actions of Assurant and other health insurance companies say it is unprecedented for a company to single out people with HIV.
But similar practices have occurred:
Reuters: But an investigation this summer by the House Energy and Commerce Committee as well as earlier ones by state regulators in California, New York and Connecticut, found that thousands of vulnerable and seriously ill policyholders have had their coverage canceled by many of the nation’s largest insurance companies without any legal basis. The congressional committee found that three insurance companies alone saved at least $300 million over five years from rescission. One of those three companies was Assurant.
This is coming at the worst possible time for healthcare foes.
Already the huge premium hikes by insurers has been a major boon to Barack Obama. This kind of thing only makes the public more disgusted with them (even if the legislation doesn’t actually hurt them, it’s the perception that counts!).
Read the full investigation here.
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