Stories like this one about private insurers operations are one good reason.
Reuters reported on Thursday that WellPoint, the largest U.S. health insurer by enrollment, was using a computer algorithm that automatically targeted patients recently diagnosed with breast cancer, among other conditions.
The software triggered an immediate fraud investigation by the company as it searched for excuses to drop coverage, according to government regulators and investigators.
WellPoint has excuses. One that is almost reasonable is that they automatically scan claims for pre-existing “conditions that patients would likely have known about when they applied for insurance, but insisted it does not single out women with breast cancer.” Which is only almost reasonable until you think it through and realize that they’re admitting that they do actively search for reasons to deny coverage to women with breast cancer, and that their other justification is that they do the same thing for everyone on their plan who comes down with a disease.
I know. They just want to make a profit for their shareholders, and they take it for granted that they profit more if they deny health care to people in need. It seems to me that that is the problem, though: relying for health care on companies that have an incentive to not provide health care doesn’t sound like a smart move.
To be fair, WellPoint has published a lengthy counterargument. They do point out that they have a lot of clients and they do have detection and prevention programs in place, which is good; nowhere do they refute the news report that they “automatically targeted patients recently diagnosed with breast cancer, among other conditions.” In fact, they’re basically admitting it, and all they say that’s relevant is that they do not single out women with breast cancer. Which the original article did not claim.
There is one small piece of WellPoint’s letter that is unintentionally amusing.
Madame Secretary, a three-story pink ribbon hangs in the lobby of our Indianapolis headquarters for many reasons.
I hate those stupid ribbons for everything: they seem to be more a blind and completely empty acknowledgment of a problem with no solution or even any real effort behind them. Want to claim you support something? Slap a magnetic ribbon on your car. Done. If you really want to pretend you care, put up a three-story tall ribbon in your lobby. Is anyone impressed?