Health Insurers Say No to Congress When Asked to End Rescission Practices
Is anyone surprised by Los Angeles Times reporter Lisa Girion’s article “Insurers Refuse to Limit Policy Cancellations"?
Executives from three of the nations largest insurers were “courteous and matter-of-fact” in their testimony before Congress about carriers’ practice of canceling coverage for sick policyholders known as rescission. When asked it the industry planned to stop the practice, all three executives said, “No.”
Members of the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations must have been dumbfounded by the response, particularly those members who have taken up the industry’s cause in opposing government-sponsored health insurance.
“When insurance companies go under oath and admit they are cancelling innocent patients when they get sick, it makes it very difficult for lawmakers to pass a law that requires every American to buy a policy or face a tax fine,” said Consumer Watchdog advocate Jerry Flanagan. “It opens the way for a public option to hold the companies in check.”
It appears to us the health insurers must not be too worried about the possibility of a public plan or simply confident that they can influence Congress against it the same way they have for the last 30 years.
Will it take a public option to convince insurers to treat policyholders fairly? We wish we could say yes, but in all likelihood rescission practices, as well as denials and delaying tactics, may be so firmly entrenched in the way the industry does business, nothing but a complete overhaul by state and federal regulators – or fines that amount to more than just a slap on the wrist -- would make a difference.