This company’s reprehensible behavior underscores the need for substantive health care reform in this country. If insurance companies can only be relied upon to look after healthy patients, and then make it a policy to abandon them when they get sick, what’s the point of having health insurance at all? Click here to find out how you can advocate for much-needed health care reform in the United States. – NewsOne Staff
In May, 2002, Jerome Mitchell, a 17-year old college freshman from rural South Carolina, learned he had contracted HIV. The news, of course, was devastating, but Mitchell believed that he had one thing going for him: On his own initiative, in anticipation of his first year in college, he had purchased his own health insurance.
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Shortly after his diagnosis, however, his insurance company, Fortis, revoked his policy. Mitchell was told that without further treatment his HIV would become full-blown AIDS within a year or two and he would most likely die within two years after that.
So he hired an attorney — not because he wanted to sue anyone; on the contrary, the shy African-American teenager expected his insurance was canceled by mistake and would be reinstated once he set the company straight.
But Fortis, now known as Assurant Health, ignored his attorney’s letters, as they had earlier inquiries from a case worker at a local clinic who was helping him. So Mitchell sued.
In 2004, a jury in Florence County, South Carolina, ordered Assurant Health, part of Assurant Inc, to pay Mitchell $15 million for wrongly revoking his heath insurance policy.
In September 2009, the South Carolina Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s verdict, although the court reduced the amount to be paid him to $10 million.