U.S. Tells Insurer: Quit Dropping Cancer Patients

Friday, 23 Apr 2010 10:17 PM

 

  Comment  |
   Contact  |
  Print   |
    A   A  
  Copy Shortlink
BOSTON - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has called on health insurer WellPoint to stop dropping coverage for patients recently diagnosed with breast cancer, calling the practice "deplorable."

In a letter dated April 22 to Angela Braly, WellPoint's chief executive, Sebelius said she was "surprised and disappointed" to learn from a Reuters report that the company has specifically targeted women with breast cancer for aggressive investigation with intent to cancel their policies.

"As you know, the practice described in this article will soon be illegal," Sebelius wrote. "The Affordable Care Act specifically prohibits insurance companies from rescinding policies, except in cases of fraud or intentional misrepresentation of material fact."

Reuters reported on Thursday that WellPoint, the largest U.S. health insurer by enrollment, was using a computer algorithm that automatically targeted patients recently diagnosed with breast cancer.

The software triggered an immediate fraud investigation by the company as it searched for excuses to drop coverage, according to government regulators and investigators.

"WellPoint should not wait to end the unconscionable practice of deliberately working to deny health insurance coverage to women diagnosed with breast cancer," Sebelius wrote in her letter. "I urge you to immediately cease these practices and abandon your efforts to rescind health insurance coverage from patients who need it most."

Breast cancer is the second-leading type of cancer among women, has touched millions of families, and will affect one in eight American women during their lifetime, Sebelius wrote.

"I hope you will consider these women and their families as you work to end this harmful practice," she wrote.

In a statement responding to the Reuters story, Wellpoint said it uses software to look at a series of diagnostic codes covering conditions that patients would likely have known about when they applied for insurance coverage, but maintained it does not single out breast cancer.

The company said it changed its rescission practices to ensure they are handled appropriately after a 2006 review of its policies prompted by public concern.

The issue of rescission has reemerged in the debate surrounding U.S. healthcare reform, with the new legislation approved last month.

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

  Comment  |
   Contact  |
  Print   |
  Copy Shortlink
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
Email:
Country
Zip Code:
Privacy: We never share your email.
 
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
Top Stories
You May Also Like

Obama Executive Order Gives Pay Raise to Federal Workers

Friday, 19 Dec 2014 22:36 PM

Federal workers and uniformed military service members are getting a 1 percent pay boost. . . .

Mental Illness History Ruled on Appeal to Not Bar Gun Ownership

Friday, 19 Dec 2014 22:14 PM

A federal appeals court concluded that a history of mental illness shouldn't bar citizens from owning a weapon in a firs . . .

China Arrests US Aid Worker on North Korean Border

Friday, 19 Dec 2014 21:56 PM

China has arrested an American Christian aid worker based near its border with North Korea, his lawyer said Saturday, as . . .

Most Commented

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

 
NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved