Consumer Watchdog sues Senior Health Insurance for allegedly cheating elderly

Elderly hands
Elderly hands
Rosie O'Beirne/Flickr

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Consumer Watchdog announced a suit Wednesday against a long-term care insurance company, accusing it of cheating the elderly by making them jump over too many hurdles to get care.

The non-partisan group denounced the Senior Health Insurance Company of Pennsylvania in a statement, saying it uses tactics such as delays, denials and undue requests for documentation to avoid paying for care.

"These insurance companies prey on the elderly," said Consumer Watchdog founder Harvey Rosenfield. "They take their premiums. They pocket them and then they don’t pay when the time comes."

Rosenfield filed suit on behalf of an elderly man from Southern California — a doctor and decorated war hero who ran a hospital. He paid his premiums on time for 16 years without making a claim, Rosenfield says, and then he needed in-home care.

According to Rosenfield, the insurance company put the man off with excuses, paperwork and "conditions and requirements that are violations of state law."

"They basically made it impossible for him to comply with the requirements they were imposing," Rosenfield. added. "Here’s an 87-year-old guy — Korean War Purple Heart vet, former head of the Kaiser hospital in Fontana. Now in a wheelchair, ill. And they are making him jump through hoops."

Senior Health Insurance Company has about 10,000 long-term care policy holders in California.

The company has not yet issued a statement.