The LA Times says that doctors are objecting to a letter sent by Blue Cross of California requesting that the docs help “indentify members who have failed to disclose medical conditions on their application that may be considered pre-existing.”
From the LA Times:
“We’re outraged that they are asking doctors to violate the sacred trust of patients to rat them out for medical information that patients would expect their doctors to handle with the utmost secrecy and confidentiality,” said Dr. Richard Frankenstein, president of the California Medical Assn.
Patients “will stop telling their doctors anything they think might be a problem for their insurance and they don’t think matters for their current health situation,” he said. “But they didn’t go to medical school, and there are all kinds of obscure things that could be very helpful to a doctor.”
WellPoint Inc., the Indianapolis-based company that operates Blue Cross of California, said Monday that it was sending out the letters in an effort to hold down costs.
“Enrolling an applicant who did not disclose their true condition (and the condition is chronic or acute), will quickly drive increased utilization of services, which drives up costs for all members,” WellPoint spokeswoman Shannon Troughton said in an e-mail.
“Blue Cross feels it is our responsibility to assure all records are accurate and up to date for HMO providers,” she said. “We send these letters to identify members early on in the process who may not have been honest in their application.”
Shannon sounds like a real sweetheart, doesn’t she? The article goes on to discuss recent lawsuits in California over insurance providers who approve people without checking their applications for errors, then cancel their policies later. Blue Cross is currently fighting a $1 million fine that the California Department of Managed Health Care assessed for “alleged systemic problems the agency identified in the way the company rescinds coverage.”
Doctors balk at request for data [LA Times] (Thanks, Everyone!)