WellPoint, Blue Shield end rescissions

It’s often said that sunshine is the best disinfectant — and that may well be the case regarding this surprise development: Lisa Girion of the Los Angeles Times reports that two of the nation’s largest insurers — WellPoint and Blue Shield of California — have agreed to end the practice of rescission.

WellPoint is the Indiana-based parent corporation of Anthem Blue Cross of California, which has grown notorious lately for its proposed 39% rate increase for individual policyholders, and for a story reported last week by Reuters that WellPoint had systematically targeted breast cancer patients for investigations of fraud, and subsequent rescissions.

Some breast cancer patients had their policies yanked from them, or rescinded, as they were mid-treatment.

The announcements also come as Congress and the Obama administration prepare to crack down on rescissions. Said Angela Braly, CEO of WellPoint, the “goal is to make reform work for our members and for the country.”

Since 2004, the LA Times says, at least 5,000 Californians had their insurance policies rescinded by the state’s five largest health insurers — Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield, Health Net, Kaiser and PacifiCare. That includes about 3,500 policies regulated by the Department of Managed Health Care and another 1,600 policies regulated by the Department of Insurance.

With all the attention on the practice in the last few years, those rescissions have already slowed to a trickle. So the announcement may be more about public relations, especially given another recent LA Times headline highlighting a 51% jump in profits for WellPoint.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.

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