Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Insurance Recall

OK, that may be an exaggeration but it got your attention. Seems the folks at USA Today are getting worked up over the limited benefit plans offered through subsidiaries of HealthMarket.

Can't say as I blame them. Who wants a policy that runs out of benefit before you are finished with your treatment?

"Well, Mr. Jones I am sorry we had to discontinue your anesthesia in the middle of surgery but your policy won't cover the full amount of my fee and it appears you don't have the funds to make up the difference. By the way, the surgeon could only remove half the tumor since that is all your plan covered."

OK, an exaggeration, but it drives home the point.

Sales agents peddling health insurance through Mega Life or Mid-West National told customers the coverage was affordable and good.

Affordable is one point of view . . . as long as you don't factor in the non-covered items.

For years, similar allegations have dogged the company, which sells policies with strict limits on what they pay toward medical care. Since 2002, the company has been fined by seven states and faced lawsuits from dozens of policyholders. It is now the focus of a probe by insurance regulators in 36 states, led by Alaska and Washington.

Is there a reason why they don't alter their way of doing business to AVOID these problems?

Consumer complaints against the company's insurance subsidiaries have fallen since 2005. But they're still at least twice the national median for insurers, according to a ratio of complaints to premiums calculated by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, which in 2005 called for the ongoing probe.

Twice the number of complaints as other companies. Seems they are not reacting quickly enough.

Limited-benefit plans are better than no insurance, some health care analysts say, and their generally lower premiums appeal to those on tight budgets. Others question whether coverage that can leave policyholders with large bills can truly be called insurance.

I would not disagree with that assessment.

Insurance does not have to be expensive to be good. Eventually the people who have these policies may realize what they have before it is too late.
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