Archive for Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Health insurance ’purging’ investigated

September 1, 2009

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— A top House Democrat is investigating whether the nation’s largest health insurers have deliberately canceled coverage for small businesses after their employees became sick and sought expensive treatment.

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., sent letters Monday to six insurers requesting details about their plans for small businesses and how coverage decisions are made.

The trade group representing the companies said the action amounted to a smear campaign designed to bolster support of a public health insurance option.

Waxman is investigating an industry practice called “purging,” in which insurers drop coverage for sick individuals once they become too expensive to insure. According to a statement from Waxman, health insurers will terminate coverage to small businesses by canceling their policies or raising premiums until they are unaffordable.

“We need to better understand how widespread this harmful and destructive practice has become, and how it is impacting small businesses and their employees across the country,” said Waxman, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The letters also were signed by Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., who chairs the subcommittee on oversight and investigations.

Aetna Inc., UnitedHealth Group Inc., WellPoint Inc., Humana Inc., Medica and Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield received the letters.

America’s Health Insurance Plans, which represents the companies, said Waxman’s investigation was designed to smear private insurers and bolster support for a public insurance option.

“This is just a continuation of a politically timed and politically motivated fishing expedition in an attempt to justify a new government-run insurance plan,” said the group’s spokesman, Robert Zirkelbach. “The overwhelming majority of Americans are satisfied with their current health care coverage.”

Many House Democrats say a public insurance plan, which would compete with private insurers, must be a part of health care reform. Republicans overwhelmingly oppose the idea.

President Barack Obama said he prefers a public option, but recent remarks by administration officials suggest he might back away from that preference.

Comments

rbwaa 6 years ago

How can it be a 'smear campaign' if there is nothing to hide?

imastinker 6 years ago

How is this different than any other insurance policy out there? If you get into a bunch of wrecks the insurer drops you.

This reminds me of the outcry when insurers dropped a lot of people in coastal areas after rita and katrina. Laws were passed to prevent that and everyone's rates went up.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years ago

"Aetna Inc., UnitedHealth Group Inc., WellPoint Inc., Humana Inc., Medica and Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield received the letters.

America’s Health Insurance Plans, which represents the companies, said Waxman’s investigation was designed to smear private insurers and bolster support for a public insurance option."

Sounds to me like they just don't want to provide the information-- probably because it would show exactly how cold and calculating they are in providing large profits to stockholders and high salaries to top executives rather than healthcare to their policy holders.

Kirk Larson 6 years ago

The majority with insurance are satisfied with their coverage because they don't have a catastrophic illness yet. Just wait.

Flap Doodle 6 years ago

Which industry will be the next target of the O'dude's howling mob? If the drug companies hadn't kicked in mega-bucks, it might have been them.

georgiahawk 6 years ago

Tom, what does approval ratings have to do with this article? Ya know, a lot of people can be wrong at the same time, especially when special interest groups find it profitable for them to be wrong.

imastinker 5 years, 12 months ago

Most of them didn't refuse claims, but after they paid they dropped them. Refusing legitimate claims is illegal and there were plenty of lawsuits over those.

So let me get this straight - you hate the insurance companies for making a profit in good times and want them to lose in bad times as well?

Flap Doodle 5 years, 12 months ago

Somebody should investigate the patient dumping scheme designed by one of the current residents of 1600 Penn. Ave and practiced at a Chicago hospital.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 12 months ago

Why do you want an investigation, snap? Clearly, vague innuendo is all the proof you need.

kla4one 5 years, 12 months ago

"How is this different than any other insurance policy out there? If you get into a bunch of wrecks the insurer drops you." Wow, with that attitude, I hope it happens to your employer, but chances are you can say that with such unconcern because you work for the govt or a large business? There is no comparison between being purged by a health insurance company and being dropped by an auto insurance company. If dropped by one auto insurance company, a business can easily find another without major penalties. (In fact, I question if that statement is even true. I've never heard of a business being dropped due to massive accident claims. Give an example of this please.)

With the kind of cross information among the big five health insurance company underwriters, if a company is dropped by their insurance company because they have a sick employee, not only do ALL those employees lose coverage, but chances are good that ALL those employees will also soon pay twice as much in premiums and get half as much coverage with a new insurance company plan. If one health insurance company drops you because you have a sick employee, you are flagged by all the other insurance companies as a financial loss in the making.

Once again, healthcare should NOT be handled by for profit companies. We are the ONLY industrialized nation to be so a**-backwards that we don't treat healthcare as a public right.

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