LOS ANGELES - One day after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger criticized it as "outrageous," Blue Cross of California said Tuesday that it will stop sending letters to physicians asking them to look for, and report, medical conditions that could be used to cancel patients' insurance coverage.
Blue Cross, California's biggest for-profit insurer, issued a statement Tuesday evening that stated, "... this letter is no longer necessary and, in fact, was creating a misimpression and causing some members and providers undue concern. As a result, we are discontinuing the dissemination of this letter going forward."
The Los Angeles Times, in a page-one story today, said Blue Cross changed course after the Times' reporting set off a volley of blistering comments, from the California Medical Association, doctors, patients, public officials and privacy experts.
Blue Cross had been sending as many as 1,000 such letters a month for years without complaints, a spokesman for WellPoint, Blue Cross' corporate parent, told the Times.
Blue Cross' letter allegedly asked doctors to report new patients who had failed to disclose "material medical history," including "pre-existing pregnancies."