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Colorado Bill Aimed to Prevent Unum-like Denials

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Denver, COWith an eye towards preventing the kinds of practices once employed by Unum over the years and under a variety of names, including First Unum, Unum Insurance and Unum Provident, the Colorado Senate in early March passed a bill that would prohibit the payments of bonuses or financial incentives by insurance companies to adjusters who deny or delay meritorious claims or medical care.

Senate Bill 76 "stops financial incentives designed to induce unreasonable denials, delays, cancellations or rescissions and allows salaries, company benefits, stock options, bonuses or financial incentives for other reasons," said Colorado State Senator Morgan Carroll (D-Aurora), in comments released 3/9/10 by the States News Service. "If Colorado signed SB 76 into law, it will join 16 other states in passing legislation to prohibit this action." The bill proceeded to the House for debate.

Providing quality medical to customers should be the number one priority of our health insurance system, argued Sen. Carroll. "Instead, in too many cases, we see examples of companies trying to pad their profits while their customers go without needed medical care. We need to protect Colorado consumers and bring some justice to the system."

The legislation was proposed to protect consumers from past and current practices of insurance companies that put profit over the welfare of their policyholders. A number of documented examples were provided, including the exposure of $18 million in bonus payments by Unum to insurance adjusters to deny long-term disability and various other claims.

It was reported that Senate Republicans refused to support the legislation, claiming that the bill was unnecessary and that no evidence demonstrative of such practices existed. This, in spite of a widely distributed report from "60 Minutes," the investigative unit of CBS that provided stunning evidence of such practices.

In a broadcast aired November 17, 2002 the late Ed Bradley conducted interviews with a number of adjusters who worked for Unum Provident. They all stated unequivocally that adjusters were offered financial incentives to close claims.

One Unum adjuster at the time told Bradley that a manager would announce at a staff meeting that a certain individual had "just closed a $2 million claim today, and everybody would give them a hand, and two or three weeks later, lo and behold, that person would end up being presented with a bonus, a check, money."

A doctor who also worked with Unum Provident for two years told Bradley that he and other doctors were pressured by Unum Provident to support the efforts of the claims handlers in their decision to terminate claims.

At the time, Unum denied those allegations.

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