Re "Insurer loses, alters course," Feb. 23
It is an egregious mistake to think that the mission of health insurance companies is to provide healthcare for the seriously ill. Commercial insurers fulfill their legal and corporate mission by making profits for their investors, not by providing care for the expensively ill. They do this by avoiding people who are or may become seriously ill.
The most successful companies do this better than their competitors. Precisely because this is and must remain the true north of commercial insurance, every other developed nation pushes commercial insurance to the margins of their systems. When we learn this basic lesson in the United States, we will have taken a giant step toward radical reform, and we will stop being so surprised that tigers, while not evil, are not domestic kittens.
John W. Glaser
Policy cancellations to meet benchmarks for bonus payouts were likely done with the full knowledge and direction of senior management. It has all the appearances of an operative culture at Health Net, where the focus is on achieving a targeted medical cost ratio to satisfy shareholders and reward management.
This is the same Health Net that previously lost a landmark case for withholding services as a tactic to reduce costs, a factor directly linked to bonus payouts. At what point do state and federal regulators step in to audit Health Net's claims-processing records? You have to wonder: If Health Net's financial model is dependent on operative practices like these, what does the future hold for its plan holders?
There are responsible ways to run health plans to benefit all stakeholders. Clearly this is not one of them.
Health Net's policy of canceling coverage of sick policyholders is one reason why millions lack access to healthcare, and one reason why the U.S. ranks 41st in life expectancy. A Medicare-type plan for all ages would give all taxpayers access and would not require a tax increase. Funding could come from premiums sent to companies like Health Net.
Republicans think that if people simply have health insurance, then they're OK and have full access to "the best medical system in the world." Health Net's dropping of Patsy Bates in the midst of chemotherapy proves that wrong. The fact is, healthcare and the corporate profit motive are incompatible. Health Net's response to the punitive damage award will be designed to preserve its bottom line. Ensuring delivery of the best possible care for premium-paying customers will be secondary at best. Count on it.
San Luis Obispo
Re "L.A. sues insurer over cancellations," Feb. 21
L.A. City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo said it succinctly: "Our healthcare system is broken, and it's going to take a team effort to fix it." One major reason is the power-hold the insurance companies have over the millions of Americans who are without insurance, have had insurance but were dropped for recent or preexisting medical conditions, or had to cancel their policies because of high payments. For years, these companies have been playing these unfair and unethical moves to save millions of dollars, and it is about time their business practices should be investigated.
As we work toward building a secure healthcare system for all, it is only right to start with what to do about the insurance companies' unethical and unjust operations of rejecting or canceling policies to all who need health insurance.