Health Care

Wellpoint: Get Breast Cancer, Lose Your Insurance

Wellpoint is the largest health insurer in America.
Bigger than Blue Cross. Bigger than Kaiser. It has 33.7 million people on its health policy rolls.

Thanks to an article released by Reuters on Wednesday, we have also learned that Wellpoint does its corporate best to terminate the policies of women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

It has a swell algorithm for this purpose.

Here’s a clip from the Reuters story by investigative reporter Murray Waas:

That tens of thousands of Americans lost their health insurance shortly after being diagnosed with life-threatening, expensive medical conditions has been well documented by law enforcement agencies, state regulators and a congressional committee. Insurance companies have used the practice, known as “rescission,” for years. And a congressional committee last year said WellPoint was one of the worst offenders.

But WellPoint also has specifically targeted women with breast cancer for aggressive investigation with the intent to cancel their policies, federal investigators told Reuters. The revelation is especially striking for a company whose CEO and president, Angela Braly, has earned plaudits for how her company improved the medical care and treatment of other policyholders with breast cancer.

The disclosures come to light after a recent investigation by Reuters showed that another health insurance company, Assurant Health, similarly targeted HIV-positive policyholders for rescission. That company was ordered by courts to pay millions of dollars in settlements.

In other words, Wellpoint has a policy of pawing through a woman’s policy the minute she is diagnosed to find any kind of loophole in the paperwork that might allow the corporation to weasel out of paying any further medical bills—all this at the moment in the woman’s life when she when she needs coverage the most.

Read on.

Then after you read, you might want to write a nice little note to your congressperson about making sure that the health care reform bill is revised to include some kind of verbiage to halt such practices as those used by Wellpoint and its algorithms.

Reuters also reports that such a provision was originally in the bill, but it was removed in the Senate version when “lobbyists for WellPoint and other top insurance companies successfully fought proposed provisions of the legislation.”


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