KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Reuters: WellPoint Targets Breast Cancer Patients For Rescission

Reuters, in an exclusive report on rescission: "That tens of thousands of Americans lost their health insurance shortly after being diagnosed with life-threatening, expensive medical conditions has been well documented by law enforcement agencies, state regulators and a congressional committee. ... And a congressional committee last year said WellPoint was one of the worst offenders. But WellPoint also has specifically targeted women with breast cancer for aggressive investigation with the intent to cancel their policies, federal investigators told Reuters." The article includes three women whose policies were cancelled. 

"In his push for the health care bill, President Barack Obama said the legislation would end such industry practices. But many critics worry the new law will not lead to an end of these practices. Some state and federal regulators -- as well as investigators, congressional staffers and academic experts -- say the health care legislation lacks teeth ...  [In Connecticut] One company, Aetna, has voluntarily agreed to engage in the third party review" before insurance coverage is rescinded. "For its part, WellPoint said it began offering third-party reviews in 2008" (Waas, 4/22).

Politico posted a copy of a letter written by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to WellPoint CEO and president Angela Braly in response to the accusations. "WellPoint should not wait to end the unconscionable practice of deliberately working to deny health insurance coverage to women diagnosed with breast cancer. I urge you to immediately cease these practices and abandon your efforts to rescind health insurance coverage from patients who need it most" (4/22).

WellPoint denied the allegations in the Reuters article on PR Newswire.


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