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.”
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.