WellPoint is doing a good job of showing why the health care bill was long overdue. As Reuters reported, the insurance giant has been systematically purged women with breast cancer from their policies. Even though they have paid for their plans and played by the rules, cancer treatment is expensive. WellPoint obviously does not want to pay for it. So they get between the patient and their doctor by making the decision for them. Without insurance, they won’t get treated.
WellPoint was using a computer algorithm that automatically targeted them and every other policyholder recently diagnosed with breast cancer. The software triggered an immediate fraud investigation, as the company searched for some pretext to drop their policies, according to government regulators and investigators. Once the women were singled out, they say, the insurer then canceled their policies based on either erroneous or flimsy information.
This is a horrible story – something that I hope never happens to someone that I know. Yet it has happened and the insurance companies will continue to try to do this even with health care reform passed. This is why we need a public option. Extending Medicare to anyone that wants it would be the most cost affective approach. The government would not even need to start a new program. People that are satisfied being screwed by private insurers could keep their coverage while the rest of us could have the peace of mind knowing that when you get cancer your coverage will not get dropped.