Former members sue Calif. Blue Cross

A group of ten former Blue Cross of California patients has filed a lawsuit against the health plan, alleging that the company engaged in a systematic attempt to deny patients coverage after they contracted serious illnesses. The lawsuit charges that the insurer created a special in-house unit to do background checks on patients' cases in an attempt to find grounds to deny them coverage. In the past, insurers responding to similar complaints have argued fraud makes it necessary to closely review some cases. Blue Cross of California is owned by WellPoint.

The suits were filed by William Shernoff, an attorney who specializes in bad-faith cases involving insurers. "Blue Cross' conduct is particularly reprehensible because it was part of a repeated corporate practice and not an isolated occurrence," Shernoff told the Los Angeles Times. The attorney said he filed the cases as a group in the hope that his action would draw the attention of lawmakers in Sacramento and Washington.

- see this article from the Los Angeles Times