Who would trust these companies to solve the American health care crisis?

It’s a surprise that anyone was even fined by this administration which gives us some idea how bad the problems must be if the Bush team took action against private insurance companies.

Tens of thousands of Medicare recipients have been victims of deceptive sales tactics and had claims improperly denied by private insurers that run the system’s huge new drug benefit program and offer other private insurance options encouraged by the Bush administration, a review of scores of federal audits has found.

The problems, described in 91 audit reports reviewed by The New York Times, include the improper termination of coverage for people with H.I.V. and AIDS, huge backlogs of claims and complaints, and a failure to answer telephone calls from consumers, doctors and drugstores.

Medicare officials have required insurance companies of all sizes to fix the violations by adopting “corrective action plans.” Since March, Medicare has imposed fines of more than $770,000 on 11 companies for marketing violations and failure to provide timely notice to beneficiaries about changes in costs and benefits.

The companies include three of the largest participants in the Medicare market, UnitedHealth, Humana and WellPoint.[My emphasis]

The audits document widespread violations of patients’ rights and consumer protection standards. Some violations could directly affect the health of patients — for example, by delaying access to urgently needed medications.

As I have said before, the system here in France is not perfect but you would simply not hear stories such as this. They have some funny ideas in France regarding health care, where people are treated first and the payment is sorted out later, without insanely ridiculous scams like this.

Why are these companies even allowed to continue doing business with the US government? If they are cheating the US government and cheating their customers, cut them off completely. Let them round up business elsewhere, but of course, they love working with the government and raking in government money so they won’t be going anywhere. They all may talk about the fear of national health care, but in a hybrid public-private system (as in France) they do just fine and still make healthy profits. Cut these companies out of government contracts for five years, hell, make it two or even one year, and let’s see how they react. I’d be able to hear the screaming and crying all of the way over here in Paris. If only someone would stand up to these America-hating businesses.

An American in Paris, France. BA in History & Political Science from Ohio State. Provided consulting services to US software startups, launching new business overseas that have both IPO’d and sold to well-known global software companies. Currently launching a new cloud-based startup. Full bio here.

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