One of the primary reasons people purchase health insurance is to cover medical expenses for catastrophic illnesses such as cancer. Because of this, they are often startled and dismayed when they have to fight insurer delays, denials and policy cancellations when they need cancer treatment. We are confronting this callous insurer behavior more often than ever before as health insurers seek more ways, as they put it, “to control costs” by refusing to uphold their portion of the insurance contract.
That’s why we are encouraged that the Los Angeles City Attorney has filed a lawsuit against Wellpoint Inc., the parent company of Anthem Blue Cross of California, for alleged false advertising and fraud regarding its rescission practices, particularly those targeting women with breast cancer. See “L.A. Accuses Wellpoint of Misleading Public,” (Los Angeles Times) http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-wellpoint-suit-20101014,0,1295801.story.
At issue are what prosecutors call three false and misleading press releases Wellpoint issued attacking assertions about the company’s rescission practices while at the same time continuing policies that cancelled coverage for women seeking benefits for breast cancer treatment.
“This is a company that seems willing to say anything – true or not – in order to maintain their profit level,” Chief Assistant City Attorney Jeffrey Isaacs told the Los Angeles Times.
Wellpoint contends the allegations are “misguided” and that it will vigorously defend itself against the claims.
What’s really misguided is forcing sick people to fight their insurers for benefits they paid for. The fact that government authorities are making health insurers honor their contracts is a step in the right direction.