Pre-Existing Health 'Conditions' - Cops, Firefighters, Expectant Dads, and Those...

Fri Sep 18, 2009 12:00pm EDT

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Pre-Existing Health 'Conditions' - Cops, Firefighters, Expectant Dads, and
Those Suffering From Allergies, Acne and Toenail Fungus Are Uninsurable
According to Internal Documents

WASHINGTON, Sept. 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In the wake of news reports
that a history of domestic violence is considered a "pre-existing condition"
by many health insurers, today Consumer Watchdog released internal insurance
company documents showing that firefighters, police officers, war
correspondents, expectant fathers, pregnant women and patients with asthma,
acne, allergies, and toenail fungus will often be denied health insurance
policies.

The internal insurance company documents - known as "underwriting" guidelines
- reveal that insurers deny applicants based on occupation, age, weight, use
of a wide range of common prescription drugs, minor health conditions or mere
"symptoms" that have not been reported to a physician.  In some cases, instead
of denying coverage outright insurance companies will sell policies to these
applicants but only at exorbitant costs.

"These documents show that just giving the insurance industry an uncontested
franchise by requiring Americans to buy policies will not solve the health
care crisis.  Americans need a strong 'public option' which would not have the
tendency to game the system like private insurers and strong regulation to
watch over the industry day-to-day," said Jerry Flanagan, Consumer Watchdog's
Health Policy Director.

Download the underwriting documents at:

    --  PacifiCare (subsidiary of United Health Group):
        http://www.ConsumerWatchdog.org/resources/PacifiCareUnderwriting.pdf
    --  Blue Cross of California (subsidiary of WellPoint Inc.):
        http://www.ConsumerWatchdog.org/resources/BlueCrossUnderwriting.pdf
    --  Blue Shield of California:
        http://www.ConsumerWatchdog.org/resources/BlueShieldUnderwriting.pdf

    --  Health Net:
        http://www.ConsumerWatchdog.org/resources/HealthNetUnderwriting.pdf


"These documents show why health care reform must include serious curbs on
insurance companies including regulation of rates and practices so insurers
can't continue to price gouge or find new ways to refuse customers as part of
their business model," said Carmen Balber, Consumer Watchdog's D.C. Director.

Read Consumer Watchdog's policy recommendations to regulate health insurance
rates and practices in the report Regulation, Not Deregulation: The
Prescription for Lowering Health Costs Without Cutting Coverage (With or
Without a Public Option) at:
http://www.ConsumerWatchdog.org/resources/Regulate_Not_Deregulate.pdf

Consumer Watchdog is a nonpartisan consumer advocacy organization with offices
in Washington, D.C. and Santa Monica, CA. Find us on the web at:
http://www.ConsumerWatchdog.org


SOURCE  Consumer Watchdog

Jerry Flanagan, +1-310-889-4912, or Carmen Balber, +1-202-629-3043, both of
Consumer Watchdog
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