The documents revealed Guardian had compiled a "hit list" of its costliest members, including patients with muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, brain injury, and paralysis. Guardian executives referred to us all as "dogs" and "trainwrecks," and they debated how and when to dump us from the rolls. Laws prohibited the cancellation of the individual members with serious chronic health problems, so Guardian opted to cancel the plan for all members of this specific health plan in New York, an action that violates federal law.
Although my medical costs constituted a minuscule fraction of Guardian's profits, the company had been trying for 15 years to sidestep its obligations to me. The insurer hired private investigators who searched in vain for evidence to justify canceling the policy. Guardian had similarly targeted the other "dogs" without success. Finally, Guardian launched the unprecedented strategy of withdrawing an established plan throughout an entire state in order to discontinue a few costly members.
When we checked the private insurance market to see my options, we discovered that benefits covering the care I need to survive are no longer available to small businesses. We learned that the insurance industry has replaced risk management with risk elimination, offering only benefits that guarantee permanent profitability. The human toll is not a factor in their calculations.
While all this was going on, Guardian reported $7.5 billion revenue, net income of $437 million, and available capital of $4.3 billion in 2008. Unlike small businesses, Guardian's financial strength remained unscathed by the economic downturn.