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Private insurer ‘rescinded’ sick patients

June 17, 2009 by  

Private insurer 'rescinded' sick patients Amid a fierce debate on the best ways to pursue a healthcare reform, it has emerged that the nation’s largest health insurer rewarded its employees for cancelling coverage of sick patients.

Evidence released by the House subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations suggests the insurance company WellPoint rewarded its employees for retroactively canceling coverage of sick patients, a practice known as "rescission," according to Consume Watchdog.

As a result, the advocacy group has called on Congress to ban health insurance employees from receiving bonuses for canceling, delaying or denying necessary medical care to patients.

"The committee’s stunning discovery demonstrates both the need for a real public alternative to for-profit insurers and new legal accountability of insurance companies that are willing to lie, cheat and kill to boost profits," says Jerry Flanagan, health care policy director for Consumer Watchdog.

One of the biggest bones of contention in the current discussions is the issue of a government-run health insurance option, which supporters say would drive down costs by forcing private insurers to compete with the government.

However, opponents counter that a public plan would drive private operators out of business, increase costs and reduce quality of health care.

Consumer Watchdog says documents show WellPoint, Golden Rule (owned by United Health) and Assurant rescinded more than 20,000 policies over five years and refused to pay for more than $300 million in medical expenses.
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