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Health Insurance Report: Easy Cherry Picking in Nevada

June 12, 2008

Las Vegas, NV – A new report says the Silver State is doing little to stop insurance companies from cherry picking only the healthiest Nevadans and declining health insurance for the rest. Ron Pollock with Families U.S.A. says they looked at all 50 states to see what kind of regulations are in place to protect consumers from insurance company abuses. Unfortunately for folks in Nevada, Pollock says, the state offers very little in the way of protection.

"For example, if the insurance company cherry picks and denies coverage to you because you've got a pre-existing health condition, the State of Nevada won't stop that from going on."

Reno artist Vicki LoSasso knows all about abusive insurance company practices. LoSasso never had trouble getting insurance as a university student, despite three pre-existing medical conditions. When she had to go it alone, she says one company refused to insure her and a second wanted to double her premium. She settled on a third company, but her deductible skyrocketed to $13,000.

"They're allowed to treat me -- as an individual -- differently than someone who is part of a plan simply because they are employed someplace. That is absolutely illogical and wrong."

LoSasso says the insurer wrote her a policy that excludes not only treatment for her pre-existing condition, but also routine testing like pap smears. She says the company even refused to pay for eye drops to keep her glaucoma in check.

Pollock says Nevada sets no limit on how much insurers can inflate premiums for people with pre-existing conditions, and there's no state regulation to stop companies from revoking insurance policies.

An industry spokesman disagreed with the report. He said very few health insurance companies are turning a profit in Nevada, and giving them more rules to follow won't help.

Michael Clifford/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - NV