Spin Control

Regence fined for IUD policy

OLYMPIA -- The state's second largest insurance company was fined $100,000 for improperly denying coverage to women seeking to remove a common birth control device.

Regence Blue Shield was also ordered to reimburse 984 women across the state for the cost of removing the intrauterine devices, the state Insurance Commissioner's office said.

Regence had a policy that paid for the insertion of an IUD, but wouldn't pay for its removal unless it was deemed "medically necessary." That meant claims were denied for women who wanted their birth control device removed because they wanted to become pregnant or because the device was outdated.

Three women appealed the denial to the insurance company, but when they were denied again didn't take it any further. A fourth woman complained to the Insurance Commissioner's office, which ruled Regence's policy was violated a policy dating to the beginning of 2002 that requires insurance companies that cover prescription drugs must cover contraceptives and the procedures necessary to remove them.

The office reviewed Regence records back to 2002, and found 984 cases where women were improperly denied coverage. The company was ordered to reimburse them, with interest, at a cost of nearly $150,000. That's on top of the $100,000 fine the insurance company was ordered to pay the state.




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Jim Camden
Jim Camden is the Olympia bureau chief, covering the Legislature and state government. He also is a political columnist and blogger for Spin Control.

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