WellPoint to stop canceling health policies

By Julianne Pepitone, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Health insurer WellPoint will implement reforms preventing cancellation of policies except for incidents of fraud, effective May 1 - just one week after coming under fire for allegedly rescinding coverage of customers with breast cancer.

The recently enacted health care reform law disallows the cancellation of policies -- with the exception of cases of fraud or intentional misrepresentation -- starting Sept. 1.

The move came after an April 22 report from Reuters that said Indianapolis-based WellPoint "specifically targeted women with breast cancer for aggressive investigation with the intent to cancel their policies."

Later that day, WellPoint posted a response on its Web site calling the Reuters story "inaccurate and grossly misleading." The statement said fewer than 0.1% of individual members' policies were rescinded in 2009.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sent WellPoint a letter on April 22 calling the alleged practice "disturbing," "deplorable" and "unconscionable."

In a response to Sebelius dated April 23, WellPoint chief executive Angela Braly said her company "does not single out women with breast cancer ... Period."

In its statement Wednesday, WellPoint said the so-called rescissions, "while rarely used, are one process for insurers to reduce fraud and protect members." The company did not return a call for further comment.

WellPoint (WLP, Fortune 500) is the largest company in the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. It is also the largest U.S. health plan, with more than 33 million medical members.  To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,776.12 -200.19 -1.11%
Nasdaq 4,900.89 -46.55 -0.94%
S&P 500 2,067.89 -18.35 -0.88%
Treasuries 1.93 -0.03 -1.48%
Data as of 8:37pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 15.39 -0.13 -0.84%
Apple Inc 124.43 -1.94 -1.54%
General Electric Co 24.81 -0.31 -1.23%
Microsoft Corp 40.66 -0.30 -0.74%
Intel Corp 31.27 -0.19 -0.60%
Data as of 4:04pm ET
Sponsors

Sections

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon asked the govenor of Arkansas to veto a religious freedom law similar to the one adopted by Indiana last week. More

The dollar's rapid rally is hurting many emerging market nations. Investors are getting out of dodge. More

Amazon's new Dash button lets users program products to buy with the click of a literal button. More

Low-income families plan to spend more than 5% of their income on prom this year, according to a new survey from Visa. More