Insurer routinely targets breast cancer patients for cancellation
Reuters reported on April 22 that it had uncovered concrete evidence of a major insurer's determined campaign to identify and deny coverage to women recently diagnosed with breast cancer. The insurer is WellPoint, with more than 33 million insureds through its subsidiary corporations: it is the largest health insurance company in the U.S. According to Reuters, WellPoint was using a computer algorithm that triggered a "fraud investigation" of every policyholder recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Reuters then provided examples of policyholders whose insurance was canceled based on erroneous or flimsy information: they were forced to fight a battle to regain coverage while simultaneously fighting the life-threatening disease and paying their own medical bills.
According to Reuters, state regulators and law enforcement officials had known for years that WellPoint was one of the worst offenders among insurers who, without adequate cause, routinely cancel policyholders facing expensive, life-threatening illnesses. Reuters cited federal investigators as the source of their information on WellPoint. It noted that a similar investigation had recently confirmed that Assurant Health was similarly targeting HIV-positive policy holders. Reuters also reported that WellPoint had lobbied effectively to prevent the creation in the new health bill of a third-party approval system for policy rescission. It noted that only Aetna among current health insurance giants currently provides third-party rescission review, and the practice has virtually eliminated rescission complaints originating with that insurer.