As the health care debate unfurled over the past few months, we've seen the great lengths that insurance companies will go to in order to ensure that their profit margins remain high. In some cases, these companies have gone so far as to deny coverage to victims of domestic violence by classifying their experience as a "pre-existing condition." As more of these practices come to light, members of Congress are sitting up and taking notice.
Domestic Policy Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Dennis Kucinich has scheduled hearings this week to examine the toll insurance company profiteering practices take on regular people. Tomorrow and Thursday, his committee will hear testimony from victims of insurance companies, insurance company CEOs, health policy specialists and whistle-blower Wendell Potter, a former executive from CIGNA (you can see the full witness list here).
Executives from several insurance companies, including United Healthcare, WellPoint, Aetna, and CIGNA will be testifying before the subcommittee. In March 1995, the Boston Globe reported that, "Among the companies that deny or have canceled coverage to battered women are Nationwide, Allstate, State Farm, Aetna, Metropolitan Life, The Equitable Companies, First Colony Life, The Prudential and the Principal Financial Group, according to a congressional survey, investigations by women's groups, and written or verbal statements to the Globe by the firms themselves." Aetna later claimed it never denied anyone coverage due to a history of domestic violence.
Patricia Farrell, Senior Vice President of Account for Aetna, Inc., will be one of the insurance industry executives appearing before Rep. Kucinich.
Join us in asking Rep. Kucinich to publicly question the insurance industry on this practice, demanding that they disavow practices that discriminate against women and those who've been the victims of domestic violence.
Stay tuned tomorrow, when we'll bring you a report from the first day of the hearing!