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Senate Committee Investigates Long-Term Disability Insurance Policies

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The US Senate Finance Committee recently held a hearing titled “Do Private Long-Term Disability Policies Provide the Protection They Promise?” The Committee’s witnesses testified to the abusive practices of insurance companies in handling disability claims.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Montana, said that long-term disability insurers use doctors with conflicts of interest in reviewing claims.  “Many of these doctors are employed either by the insurance company or by companies that do a lot of business with the insurance company,” Baucus said. “These arrangements make it far too easy for the doctors to deny claims, terminate claims, or reject appeals.”

It’s time for long-term disability insurance companies to clean up their act and treat people fairly.  They have acted with impropriety for too long.  We need to evaluate the laws that we have on the books and make sure that they are true to their original purpose – to protect people from abuse, and to guarantee that they can get the insurance funds to which they are entitled.  Hard-working Americans with long-term disability insurance should not have to deal with corporate abuses if they suffer an injury that keeps them out of work.  They are entitled to insurance payments.  They should not face roadblock after roadblock to see that money, nor should they face unfair rescissions or payment terminations.

The hearing was convened in response to media stories of unfair claim denials and terminations. The expert witnesses testified about instances in which the use of in-house doctors and long delays were used as tactics to avoid paying benefits.

Ronald Leebove, a rehabilitation counselor who appeared for the American Board of Forensic Counselors, Springfield, Mo., said private group long-term disability policies fail to provide the protection insurers promise. “There are many tricks and tactics used by the insurance companies to deny claims,” Leebove said.

Video of the hearing and transcripts of testimony are available at:  http://finance.senate.gov/hearings/hearing/?id=1c1bd578-5056-a032-5237-4dd9283e52ed .

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