San Francisco Chronicle
August 19, 2010
Trade group sues over new Calif. insurance rules
By Shaya Tayefe Mohajer
A new regulation that makes it harder for health insurance companies to drop individual policyholders in California is being challenged in court by an industry trade group.
The California Department of Insurance's new regulations, which took effect Wednesday, require insurers to investigate the medical histories of those seeking individual policies before accepting any premiums.
The Association of California Life and Health Insurance Companies sued to stop the rules on Monday, accusing the state of acting "in excess of its jurisdiction and authority" by creating regulation that conflicts with the state's insurance code.
Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner on Thursday called the lawsuit "shortsighted and morally wrong."
"Sometimes I think representatives in this industry have their heads permanently stuck in the sand. Illegal rescissions are a repugnant industry practice," said Poizner.
Comment: One of the most egregious offenses of the health insurance industry has been to retroactively revoke an insurance policy after the insured individual files a medical claim, a process known as rescission. Public outrage over this injustice helped to drive the process that brought us the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).
Apparently the insurance industry has learned nothing. Their trade organization in California has the gall to infuriate all of us by suing to protect their right to do their underwriting after a claim is filed rather than before the policy is issued, whacking the patients when they are down.
Since PPACA will make rescissions more difficult, you would think that the industry would be quiet and accept the inevitable. No. Instead they reveal that they are not simply an amoral industry but rather a truly immoral one by insisting on their right to retroactively deny payment of medical bills run up by the hapless patient, merely to save the costs of timely underwriting.
This is not the industry that should be managing our health care financing. We need our own public financing entity - a single payer national health program.