Here's how it works. As Stupak's committee, investigations by a couple of news organizations and some state insurance commissioners, and lawsuits by policyholders have revealed, many insurance companies routinely take the opportunity of a serious accident or illness by one of their policyholders to launch an investigation to see whether they can drop the policyholder from coverage. They don't do this when you first sign up for your policy -- instead, they cash your premiums every month, waiting until you actually file a major claim. At that point, they begin poring over all your past medical records and every form you ever filled out for them, to see if they can find a reason to claim that you violated the terms of your policy. It doesn't even have to have anything to do with the illness in question -- for instance, the Los Angeles Times cited the case of a nurse in Texas who was booted from her insurance policy "after she was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer, for failing to disclose a visit to a dermatologist for acne."
. . . Think about this for a moment. Somewhere in America today, a woman is sitting in her doctor's office, experiencing the worst moment of her life, as she learns she has breast cancer. Death is staring her in the face. She's wondering whether she'll be there to raise her children or meet her grandchildren. But there's something she doesn't know as she walks out of the office and begins to plan how to tell her family that she could be dead soon.
What she doesn't know is that because she was just diagnosed with cancer, her insurance company is launching an investigation of her, in the hopes that they can find a mistake on one of the many forms she's filled out over the years. One of their employees is poring through her records, and that employee's job is to see if the company can come up with some rationale, any rationale, for cutting off her coverage, so they won't have to pay for the treatment for her cancer. And of course, once they do drop her, she won't be able to get coverage from any of the other insurance companies. Because she has cancer.
Waldman calls this "evil", and he has a point. But we don't have to go that far to conclude that it's unacceptable.