With cancellations, CA health plans show suicidal persistence


I've said this before, but heaven help me, I feel I need to say it again: What on earth do California's health plans think they're going to accomplish by engaging in all-out war with the state's top insurance industry regulators?

I understand that health plans need to protect their interests, and that they certainly can't afford to pay heavy medical bills for people who deliberately try to game the system. But in this case, the plans have gotten extremely clear direction from the state's Department of Insurance and the Department of Managed Health Care (not to mention the courts) that it's just not OK to routinely rescind policies when patients get sick.

However, that hasn't stopped the state's big players from their suicidal determination to fight the power. In feats of derring-do I can only compare to a Fortune 500 CFO flipping off the SEC, they simply keep doing what they're doing and insist that despite all evidence, they're in the right. It's not unlike the posture my five-year-old takes when he's broken the cookie jar and the crumbs and ceramic shards are all over the floor. 

Truth be told, things are so extreme out there that it's almost like reality TV. Watch in amazement as HealthNet lies to regulators! Gasp as Blue Cross of California pays a $1 million penalty! Look on in awe as plan executives insist that retroactive cancellations for innocent mistakes are kosher! This is far more intriguing than "Real Life Housewives of Orange County."

The problem is, reality TV is entertainment, while this is a high-stakes game in which there are many losers--doctors, patients and some ways, the health plans themselves. With any luck, California's health plan executives will come to their senses at some point... though at the moment, I'm not very optimistic. - Anne

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