Two whistleblower lawsuits have been filed recently against insurers, faulting them for requiring unnecessary and repeated disability applications with Social Security before they’ll pay out any benefits. One person says her disability insurer, the Unum Group—which was only paying her $50 a month for a temporary injury she was almost certain to recover from—called her 10 times to ask her about her Social Security disability application. The woman told the New York Times “she did not need or want money from Social Security, and did not think she was entitled to it. Her doctors had told her she would recover, and Social Security is limited to people whose disabilities are total and permanent.”
An insurance trade group today announced a “series of steps” to expand the number of Americans who have health insurance. “The proposals, approved by a board of the industry’s main trade group, would make it harder for insurers to cancel policies or deny coverage to people with pre-existing medical conditions. The steps would also limit the premiums that could be charged for such people.” The trade off? “The trade group also called on states to provide individual coverage for people who were likely to incur very high medical bills.”
The Los Angeles Times reports that Health Net Inc., one of California’s largest insurers, “avoided paying $35.5 million in medical expenses by rescinding about 1,600 policies between 2000 and 2006.” Its senior analyst in charge of cancellations, Barbara Fowler, made $20,000 in bonuses during that period for meeting cancellation goals. We hope for her family’s health that she uses that extra money to buy insurance from a better company than Health Net.
Nothing says “I love you, Mom,” like some more medicine for her diabetes, or “You’re the best, Dad,” like a refill of nitro tablets. That’s why the health insurance company Highmark is offering new Healthcare Visa Gift Cards—for about $5 plus an unspecified shipping and handling fee, you can load it with anywhere from $25 to $5,000 to be used exclusively on medical expenses. After the first 9 months, the card emerges from the womb of “I already paid for this!” and starts charging you a monthly $1.50 maintenance fee. Won’t your kid be excited come Christmas morning when she finds out her staph infection is going to get treated?!