If you’re not familiar with the concept of rescission, it’s a lovely business practice of health insurance companies in which they examine patients records to find a reason to “rescind” coverage after finding out that a customer has a life-threatening illness. This saves them money. That’s not news. What is news is that according to new documents revealed in a court case, one insurer “Fortis” (now known as Assurant Health) specifically targeted people who were newly diagnosed with HIV.
Reuters says that documents are from a court case in which such a patient, Jerome Mitchell, a college student from rural South Carolina, was recently awarded $10 million.
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.
In this specific case, the coverage was cancelled because “based on a single erroneous note from a nurse in his medical records that indicated that he might have been diagnosed prior to his obtaining his insurance policy.” After they found this error, the court found that they refused to investigate further despite evidence that the date in the note was incorrect.