Main | Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Insurance Company Investigated HIV+ Clients To Find Reasons To Drop Coverage

Last year the South Carolina Supreme Court upheld a ruling that Assurant Health must pay their customer Jerome Mitchell a settlement of $10M for wrongly canceling his coverage because he'd become HIV-positive. An investigation into Assurant's inner workings has revealed an extensive campaign to find any reason to cancel the insurance of others with HIV.
Previously undisclosed records from Mitchell's case reveal that Fortis 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.

The revelations come at a time when President Barack Obama, in his frantic push to rescue the administration's health care plan, has stepped up his criticism of insurers. The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote later this week on an overhaul of the health system, which Obama has said is essential to do away controversial and unpopular industry practices. Insurance companies have long engaged in the practice of "rescission," whereby they investigate policyholders shortly after they've been diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses. But government regulators and investigators who have overseen the actions of Assurant and other health insurance companies say it is unprecedented for a company to single out people with HIV.
According to investigators, Assurant profited over $150M by canceling the policies of people with serious illnesses. And that was just from 2003-2007.

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