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According to a recent Reuters report the health insurance giant, Wellpoint, routinely targets women with a history of breast cancer for policy cancellation. In fact, two women who lived on opposite sides of the country, both who paid their policy premiums on time discovered that their policies had been cancelled shortly after they were diagnosed with breast cancer. The only thing that they had in common was that they their health insurance carriers are subsidiaries of WellPoint.

Insurance companies have used this practice, known as rescission, for years—that is, dumping people when they have a serious illness, even after an individual has paid their premiums for years. WellPoint’s behavior once again shows that insurance companies will continuously place profits over people and ignore the fact that they were originally developed to help protect people during health crises. WellPoint’s behavior is particularly shocking considering the company has a female CEO, Angela Braly, who appears to not have much compassion for her fellow women (or men) who are diagnosed with breast cancer.

Many politicians and others are aghast at this blatant act of disregard for patients’ health and safety. Many have spoken out against WellPoint and other insurance companies who engage in this bad behavior, including secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, who recently sent a letter to WellPoint admonishing them for their poor customer care. In this letter, secretary Sebelius reminds WellPoint that the practice of rescission will soon be illegal on September 23 of this year thanks to the healthcare reform bill. Undoubtedly, insurance companies will continue to try to find loopholes in the new laws to shortchange their policy holders, but at least the healthcare reform bill is a step in the right direction.

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