Friday, June 19, 2009

Lunkhead(s) of the Week
Richard A. Collins (CEO of UnitedHealth's Golden Rule Insurance Co.), Don Hamm (CEO of Assurant Health) and Brian Sassi (president of consumer business for WellPoint Inc.)

During a House Committee hearing this week, panels of people told horror stories about losing health coverage after getting sick when their insurance companies searched and searched and finally found some trivial oversight in their application. These 3 health industry executives earn Lunkhead of the Week honors for their unanimous one-word answer to a pointed question about this method of denying coverage. From the LATimes (via Kevin Drum)
Committee members took turns, alternating Democrats and Republicans, condemning such practices.

"When times are good, the insurance company is happy to sign you up and take your money in the form of premiums," said Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.). "But when times are bad . . . some insurance companies use a technicality to justify breaking its promise, at a time when most patients are too weak to fight back."

"I think a company does have a right to make sure there's no fraudulent information," said Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.). "But if a citizen acts in good faith, we should expect the insurance company that takes their money to act in good faith also."

Late in the hearing, Stupak, the committee chairman, put the executives on the spot. Stupak asked each of them whether he would at least commit his company to immediately stop rescissions except where they could show "intentional fraud."

The answer from all three executives:


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