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Friday, April 23, 2010

Get breast cancer, lose your health insurance.

Wellpoint, the largest health insure in the U.S. with over 33 million policies is being investigated by Federal authorities for using computer algorithms to identify newly diagnosed cases of breast cancer to then trigger a fraud investigation to uncover any discrepancy in the initial application and the patients medical records no matter how flimsy. The company then uses this to cancel the policies. One well publicized case caused a woman to lose her insurance because she neglected to mention she had been treated for acne as a teenager.

The revelation is especially striking for a company whose CEO and president, Angela Braly, has earned plaudits for how her company improved the medical care and treatment of other policyholders with breast cancer.

The disclosures come to light after a recent investigation by Reuters showed that another health insurance company, Assurant Health, similarly targeted HIV-positive policyholders for rescission. That company was ordered by courts to pay millions of dollars in settlements.

While the new Health Care Reform law ends such discriminatory practices, many critics including some federal and state regulators fear that the law doesn't have the teeth to stop or even substantially reduce rescission.

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