Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 8:42 pm

Making shareholder omelettes, Guardian Life Insurance-style; or, We finally found the death panel


Americans don’t care about collateral damage. I’m not talking about the American military. I’m talking about American insurers:

After decades of medical emergencies, we still weren’t prepared for the latest crisis — this one created by the same insurance company that once saved my life. Guardian abruptly withdrew our health plan from all policyholders in New York where my father’s business is based. Guardian offered a ‘replacement’ plan with low benefits and no home nursing benefits. They knew that I would never survive with such a plan, but they didn’t care.

Suspecting that this action was related to the high cost of my care, we filed a lawsuit and have asked the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to enforce existing federal laws and require Guardian to continue my health plan. Without federal intervention, I will lose this insurance, and that would be a death sentence.

Our lawsuit uncovered insurance company documents that confirmed my suspicion that I’m a target of discrimination. The documents revealed Guardian had compiled a “hit list” of its costliest members, including patients with muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, brain injury, and paralysis. Guardian executives referred to us all as “dogs” and “trainwrecks,” and they debated how and when to dump us from the rolls. Laws prohibited the cancellation of the individual members with serious chronic health problems, so Guardian opted to cancel the plan for all members of this specific health plan in New York, an action that violates federal law. …

While all this was going on, Guardian reported $7.5 billion revenue, net income of $437 million, and available capital of $4.3 billion in 2008.

Someone should go to prison for this. It’s fraud at the least and, depending on the medical outcomes of the people covered, could well have extended to manslaughter.
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