Insurer Ordered to Pay Breast Cancer Patient $9 Million After Canceling Coverage
A California breast cancer patient whose insurance company stopped paying for her chemotherapy treatments before they were completed has been awarded $9 million.
The ruling judge termed the actions of the insurer, Health Net of California, "reprehensible," just as the Los Angeles city attorney announced another lawsuit against Health Net on charges it illegally canceled claims from about 1,600 patients, according to the Associated Press.
The cancer patient, Patsy Bates, 52, had her chemotherapy payment benefits cut off by Health Net in 2004 after she had undergone only two treatments, the wire service reported. She was left owing her doctors almost $130,000. The insurance company had an incentive program for its reviewers, rewarding them for rejecting or eliminating benefit payments, the AP reported.
A Health Net spokesperson told the wire service it had such a program in 2003 and 2004, but that it had been suspended, pending a review of the company's procedures. "Obviously we regret the way that this has turned out, but we are intent on fixing the processes to maintain the public trust," spokesman David Olson told the AP.
"It's hard to imagine a policy more reprehensible than tying bonuses to encourage the recision of health insurance that helps keep the public well and alive," arbitration judge Sam Cianchetti wrote in his decision.
Don't get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.