Bad Press for Insurers

"Sixteen years ago, she was diagnosed with a form of treatable cancer.  And even though she had been cancer free for more than a decade, the insurance company kept jacking up her rates anyway, year after year," President Obama said during his last public event to stump for health care reform, relaying the story of a woman named Natoma to a crowd in Strongsville, Ohio on Monday.

It's been a staple of his push for reform to demonize insurers by citing individual struggles, and, after Anthem BlueCross's California rate-hike supplied Democrats with fresh talking points last month, some more bad press for insurers comes out today. Reported by Murray Waas for Reuters:

Previously undisclosed records from Mitchell's case reveal that Fortis had a company policy of targeting policyholders with HIV. A computer program and algorithm targeted every policyholder recently diagnosed with HIV for an automatic fraud investigation, as the company searched for any pretext to revoke their policy. As was the case with Mitchell, their insurance policies often were canceled on erroneous information, the flimsiest of evidence, or for no good reason at all, according to the court documents and interviews with state and federal investigators.

Waas notes that there is no evidence any other insurer has sought to deny coverage to HIV patients, but don't be surprised if this incident makes its way into a Democratic argument for health reform.