More Insurers Pledge To Halt Practice of Revoking Health Insurance Plans
On Wednesday, three private health insurers and the health insurance industryâs top executive pledged to halt rescissions of customers' health policies when they get sick, Politico reports (Frates/Haberkorn, Politico, 4/28).
BlueCross BlueShield Association, Humana and UnitedHealth Group said that they would stop cancelling their customers' policies, except in cases of fraud or intentional material misrepresentation (Murphy, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 4/28).
The announcements came one day after eight House Democratic leaders sent a letter to seven major insurers -- which also included Aetna, Assurant Health, Kaiser Permanente and WellPoint -- calling for a voluntary end to rescissions.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius also criticized insurers on Tuesday for the practice, saying that sick customers need coverage the most. Although the new health reform law includes a provision that enforces a federal ban on rescissions, it is not scheduled to take effect until September (California Healthline, 4/28).
Timeframes for Halting Rescissions
UnitedHealth now says it will immediately halt the practice, BCBSA said it would end the practice next month and Humana said that it already has a policy in place that limits rescissions to fraudulent cases, the AP/Chronicle reports.
On the lawmakers' request to launch third-party independent reviews of rescission cases, UnitedHealth said that it would do so "in the near term," while WellPoint and Humana said they already conduct such reviews (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 4/28).
Aetna and Assurant said they would halt their rescissions practices before the September deadline, but they did not provide a specific timeline, according to Reuters (Heavey, Reuters, 4/28).
On Tuesday, WellPoint announced that it, too, would stop rescissions of legitimate policies (California Healthline, 4/28).
Letter From Karen Ignagni
In a separate letter to House Democrats, Karen Ignagni -- president and CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans, the industry's main lobby group -- wrote, "We have been actively reviewing and discussing the rescissions provisions since the law was enacted and are pleased to be able to implement this reform ahead of schedule," and "our community is committed to implementing the new standards [outlined in the new reform law] in May 2010 to ensure that individuals and families will have greater peace of mind when purchasing coverage" (Norman, CQ HealthBeat, 4/28).
Insurers' Action on Reform
According to Politico, insurers' pledge to halt rescissions "marks the third time the industry has smoothed the way for implementation" of the new reform law since its enactment in March.
Insurers this month agreed to comply with a provision that requires them to keep young people on their parents' insurance plans until age 26, before it is enforced in September. Last month, the industry promised to comply with a once-contentious provision in the new law that prohibits insurers from denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions (Politico, 4/28).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.