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Breast Cancer Patient Awarded 9 Million Dollars

Breast Cancer Patient Awarded 9 Million Dollars

Another example of how medical insurance company policies are put in place to make money, not save lives. In this case the patient came out on top being awarded more than 9 million dollars.

Patsy Bates Awarded 9 Million A woman whose medical coverage had been canceled whilst she was undergoing treatment for breast cancer was recently awarded more than $9 million in a case against one of California’s largest health insurers.

Patsy Bates, 52, a hairdresser from Gardena, was preparing for surgery when she first the news that Health Net was dropping her.

She had already undergone surgery to remove the tumor and had received her first two chemotherapy treatments before the doctors stopped treating her.

“I was devastated, I didn’t know what was going to happen,” Bates said. “It’s boggling that someone can do that to you.”

“I had cancer, my life was on the line, and these guys did not care, did not care at all,”

Bates had previously been insured with another company but was persuaded to switch over to a Health Net policy after an agent suggested she could save money.

Documents submitted by Health Net showed that a senior analyst, Barbara Fowler, single-handedly dropped hundreds of policy holders like Bates from the rolls every year.

In fact Flower’s the company awarded her bonuses based on how many policy holders she dropped.

Health Care Insurance Company Health Net was Sued

The company called 2003 – the year Fowler dropped Patsy Bates – “a banner year” for her, for saving the company $6 million in what they call “unnecessary health care expenses.”

“It has never affected how I performed my job duties,” Fowler told CBS News, but Bates’ attorney called that outrageous and illegal.

Flowers decision left Bates with more than $129,000 in unpaid medical bills when Health Net Inc. canceled her policy in 2004. She was luckily able to complete her cancer treatment through a State funded program.

Arbitration judge Sam Cianchetti who presided over the case ordered Health Net to repay that amount while providing $8.4 million in punitive damages and $750,000 for emotional distress.

The award came a day after the Los Angeles city attorney sued Health Net, claiming it illegally canceled the coverage of about 1,600 patients. City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo also said the company illegally ran an incentive program in which it paid bonuses to an administrator for meeting targets of policy cancellations.

Health Net acknowledged that such a program existed in 2002 and 2003 but was subsequently scrapped.

Bates, a mother of two, said she screamed when she heard about the damage award.

“I am elated,” she said

Bates’ attorney William Shernoff said he wanted other insurers to take notice of the award

“We are going to stop a put to this practice,” he said.

In his findings, Cianchetti wrote that “it’s hard to imagine a policy more reprehensible than tying bonuses to encourage the recision of health insurance that helps keep the public well and alive.”

The decision has prompted Health Net to begin employing a review panel before dropping policies. The Californian insurer also said it would conduct a review of its practices and the way its brokers and agents are trained.

“Obviously we regret the way that this has turned out, but we are intent on fixing the processes to maintain the public trust,” Health Net spokesman David Olson said.


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