COMMENTS: Investigate This

Both CBS and ABC activated its investigative units: ABC was outraged about the way we pay taxes; CBS about health insurance. In his Investigation for CBS, Armen Keteyian exposed "a system stacked against the individual" as the insurance industry uses the massive Medical Information Bureau database to screen applicants. Insurers stand accused of "cherry picking the most healthy people" by screening for even the most trivial ailments. "That is just the A's!" exclaimed Keteyian as he read the questionnaire categories "acne, asthma, athlete's foot, allergy." He found another that asked about headaches, infections, muscle pain…"Have you ever had a drink?" Applicants can also be rejected for individual health insurance on the basis of credit history, driving records, sports activities…"Am I reading this right? Morals and lifestyle!" Susan Pisano, the insurance industry spokeswoman, said this in its defense: "Conditions that seem minor to you and me do entail a level of expense that is fairly substantial."

On ABC, Brian Ross' Investigates attended the House Ways & Means Committee hearings into the harassment of taxpayers. The Internal Revenue Service pays private agencies 25c on each $1 to collect back taxes. Its own internal documents "show hundreds of complaints about repeated and rude calls." The rudeness may not even be efficient, with administrative costs exceeding revenues. Nevertheless the IRS plans to expand its outsourcing to hire eight more collection firms.


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