April 28, 2010 / 3:10 PM / 9 years ago

UnitedHealth moves early to end dropped policies

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - UnitedHealth Group Inc on Wednesday said it would immediately stop terminating healthcare coverage for policyholders after they become sick to comply with new healthcare law months ahead of schedule.

The move follows pressure from Democrats and the Obama administration to implement healthcare reforms ahead of the September 23 deadline. On Tuesday, rival WellPoint said it would end the practice, known as rescission, on May 1.

The law, passed in March, gives health insurers six months to halt a number of controversial practices, including the termination of healthcare coverage for patients after they get sick, except in cases of fraud or misrepresentation.

It also prohibits insurers from refusing to cover people with pre-existing conditions and capping lifetime payouts.

Democratic lawmakers and U.S. Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius have been pressuring health insurers to act now, especially in the wake of a recent Reuters report that WellPoint used computer algorithms to investigate breast cancer patients with the intent of canceling their coverage.

Reporting by Susan Heavey, editing by Maureen Bavdek

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