“Death Panels” Have Existed For Years. They’re Called “Insurance Companies.”

How much longer will we allow stuff like this to happen?

Fortis [now called 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. [From Reuters]

A judge called Assurant’s actions “reprehensible” and believes that the company deliberately destroyed evidence to hide its wrongdoing. That wasn’t some extreme left-wing liberal moonbat like me talking, either. It was the Chief Justice of the South Carolina state Supreme Court, easily one of the reddest states in the country:

The South Carolina Supreme Court, in upholding the jury’s verdict in the case in a unanimous 5-0 opinion, said that it agreed with the lower court’s finding that Fortis destroyed records to hide the corporation’s misconduct. Supreme Court Chief Justice Jean Hoefer Toal wrote: “The lack of written rescission policies, the lack of information available regarding appealing rights or procedures, the separate policies for rescission documents” as well as the “omission” of other records regarding the decision to revoke Mitchell’s insurance, constituted “evidence that Fortis tried to conceal the actions it took in rescinding his policy.”

. . . Toal was as harsh in her criticism of the company as Judge Nettles had been. “We find ample support in the record that Fortis’ conduct was reprehensible,” she wrote. “Fortis demonstrated an indifference to Mitchell’s life and a reckless disregard to his health and safety.”

Again, the South Carolina state Supreme Court found a health insurance company has a reckless disregard for peoples’ health. And there’s this:

Their motive, according to the judge [Chief Justice Toal], was obvious: “The court finds that Fortis wrongfully elevated its concerns for maximizing profits over the rights and interest of its customer.”

And this:

In his order, Nettles said Mitchell’s treatment was typical of how Fortis treated patients recently diagnosed with HIV and other life-threatening diseases.

“In addition to these acts toward (Mitchell) there was evidence that Fortis has for some time been making recommendations for rescission, and acting on those recommendations, without good-faith investigation conducted fairly and objectively … Fortis pre-programed its computer to recognize the billing codes for expensive health conditions, which triggers an automatic fraud investigation by its “Cost Containment” division whenever such a code is recognized.”

A federal investigator who has reviewed Assurant’s remaining records . . . said that the motive for focusing on people with HIV was simply the high cost of treating the illness: “We are talking a lifetime of therapy, a lifetime of care … a lot of bills. Nowadays someone with HIV can live a normal life for decades. This was about money.”

. . .  an investigation last 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.

The committee estimated that Assurant alone profited by more than $150 million between 2003 and 2007 from rescission.

Enough is enough. It’s time to get the current attempt at health insurance reform passed. After that, we can start the long process of working toward a genuine single-payer system like the civilized world has.

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4 Responses to ““Death Panels” Have Existed For Years. They’re Called “Insurance Companies.””

  1. z Says:

    The problem is now you may have only ONE insurance company to turn to. The Federal Government. And where are you gonna go when they tell you “sorry, no treatment for you.”

  2. ianheath653 Says:

    You only have ONE insurance company to turn to the way things stand right now. If you develop a catastrophic illness and your current insurer finds some flimsy (or, in the case of Assurant, flat-out illegal) excuse to drop your coverage, you CAN’T GET INSURED ELSEWHERE. It’s called denial of coverage due to pre-existing conditions. Right now, it’s perfectly legal and it happens all the time.

    Plus, the last time I checked, governments don’t try to maximize profits at all costs. You can also vote for your representatives in government, and you have the Constitutional right to petition them for grievances.

    Have you ever voted for anyone on the board or in the management of your insurance company?

    Didn’t think so.

  3. z Says:

    Plus, the last time I checked, governments don’t try to maximize profits at all costs…

    You’ve got to be kidding me, right? What do you call taxes?

  4. ianheath653 Says:

    Taxes raise the funds to pay for essential services. Things like fire departments, police, road construction and maintenance, clean running water, education, etc. They’re for the very basic things that make a free market economy possible in the first place. Taxes are for things that are done because they’re good for the public as a whole, rather than for a few individuals looking to make a quick buck.

    No sane person would want to live in a town with a for-profit fire company, a for-profit water department, and a for-profit police force. It’s long past time we lumped health care into that category.

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