Regence BlueShield fined $100,000 over IUD removal

Aug 17, 2011

OLYMPIA, Wash. – One of Washington’s largest health insurers faces a hefty fine for refusing to pay for the removal of a certain type of birth control device.

Regence BlueShield will pay a $100,000 penalty for improperly denying claims from nearly 1,000 women. The women had their IUDs removed because the device was outdated or they wanted to try to have a baby.

Rachelle Cunningham is a spokeswoman for Regence. She says the company had previously deemed removal of the contraceptive device was not medically necessary.

"This was an error," Cunningham says. "This was something that we didn’t realize it was a problem until it was brought to our attention and certainly when we did realize that we did everything we could to go back and make it right."

Regence has since reprocessed all 984 claims that were denied going back to 2002. Washington's Insurance Commissioner began investigating last year after receiving a consumer complaint.

The $100,000 fine, plus interest payments to the affected women, constitutes the largest penalty against a Washington health insurer in recent years.

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