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Glendale resident files lawsuit against Anthem Blue Cross

Two California residents are suing insurance giant Anthem Blue Cross, alleging they were misled into giving up previous coverage that had been grandfathered in with respect to Obamacare.

November 07, 2013|By Chad Terhune

In a new line of attack on canceled health policies, two California residents are suing insurance giant Anthem Blue Cross, alleging they were misled into giving up their previous coverage, the Los Angeles Times reported.

About 900,000 Californians and many more nationwide have received cancellation notices on their individual health insurance policies, triggering a public uproar against the rollout of President Obama's healthcare law.

Some consumers have complained about hefty rate hikes from the forced upgrades because their current plans don't meet all the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.

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Much of the consumer anger has been directed at Obama's repeated pledge that Americans could keep their existing health insurance if they liked it despite the massive overhaul.

In separate lawsuits filed Monday, Paul Simon, 39, of Sherman Oaks and Catherine Coker, 63, of Glendale sought to pin some of the blame on Anthem Blue Cross, a unit of WellPoint Inc.

The two plaintiffs are asking the courts to block any policy cancellations unless Anthem customers are allowed to switch back to their previous grandfathered health plans.

In their Los Angeles County Superior Court suits, Simon and Coker allege that Anthem pressured them in 2011 to give up their grandfathered status, a position that would have shielded them from changes under the healthcare law.

People who bought their individual policy before March 2010, when the healthcare law was enacted, and kept it in place aren't affected by the current changes in the market. In California, nearly half of the 2 million individual policyholders are expected to lose their current coverage and must find a new plan by Jan. 1.

"This is about an insurance company manipulating the situation and concealing the facts," said William Shernoff, a Claremont attorney for both plaintiffs. "We are asking the court to give our clients and everybody else in the same situation the option of going back to their grandfathered policies."

Anthem Blue Cross said it hadn't seen the complaints yet so it couldn't comment.

In a related development Monday, Blue Shield of California said it has granted a temporary reprieve to some customers whose policies face termination Dec. 31.

The San Francisco insurer said it reached an agreement with state regulators to allow 80,000 policyholders to extend their existing coverage until March 31. Customers who are affected will be notified starting Tuesday.

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