Unum Whistle Blowers Weigh In – Medical Discrimination and Personal Activity Projects

I hope our readers are staying on top of some of the comments to posts added recently. Unum employees and ex-employees are contacting us to say information reported on Lindanee’s Blog about Unum’s internal processes is accurate.

We appreciate the input of those who have recently worked, or who are still working at Unum. I understand the type of courage it takes to come forward and I greatly appreciate your honesty and input. 

Having once been a Unum employee I understand entirely the moral dilemma Unum employees find themselves in. The truth is, Unum employees are complicit with assisting management to deny disability claims unfairly.

Do all of the claims staff know this?  No, they don’t – it takes a while to figure it out. The good thing is that once the light bulb finally comes on, claims handlers leave the company in droves. Sometimes it just isn’t worth it!

According to the information recently reported to DCS, Inc. Unum has an established pattern of practice of terminating employees for poor performance once they have been diagnosed with  potentially serious diseases such as breast cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and other impairments.

It has also been reported to us Unum maintains its claims staff at approximately 35 years of age. Of course, this type of group underwriting of medical impairment to eliminate risk and more expensive health insurance premiums is against the law in most states.

Employees diagnosed with serious diseases are more vulnerable and often take more PTO time than usual, therefore it may be difficult to disprove Unum’s “poor performance” reason for dismissal. Still, if employees are able to return to work and perform their job tasks while impaired, they should be able to remain on the job.

This is consistent with information provided to a Chattanooga reporter who received an anonymous letter concerning several female employees terminated when diagnosed with breast cancer.  DCS is also aware of another employee terminated when diagnosed with heart disease. Those who recently worked for Unum weigh-in with an emphatic “yes” to medical discrimination.

I have no idea where attorneys are these days. Terminating employees for “poor performance” in order to hide group health insurance coverage discrimination is ripe for a class action lawsuit. There are sufficient numbers of Unum employees  who are  now willing to come forward and document their story. I know attorneys read this blog.  No one’s interested in this type of class action anymore?

In addition, one Unum employee describes a “Customer Relations” project where claims handlers are required to keep contacting insureds and claimants to ask them questions about their personal lives, family, and personal activities. Apparently, Unum is giving monetary performance awards to those able to obtain personal information resulting in claim denials.

A few months ago I posted a very strong caution concerning Unum Questionnaires and Claimant Statements particularly the boxes asking insureds to ”describe your daily activities.” Unum’s medical staff devised ways to translate personal activity into x numbers of METS which equate to physical work capacity. For example, doing laundry twice a week downstairs in the basement equates to 5 METS which is sedentary capacity for work.

For ERISA employer group sponsored claims, “sedentary work capacity” is the trigger to deny claims by identifying “gainful alternative occupations.” All you have to do is tell a Unum claims rep you carry laundry and your claim is gone at the 24-month change in definition.

Please note, regardless of whether Unum’s management  puts forth a “Customer Relations Project” or not, insureds and claimants are NOT required to speak with any Unum rep on the phone, nor is anyone required to discuss personal daily activities, those of your family, or give up private information about your activities.

This is yet another reason why insureds should NOT take phone calls from insurers and make it very clear you wish to be contacted only by phone. When you receive the questions in the mail, do NOT answer the personal questions. Contractually, the only information you need give Unum is that concerning your medical condition, occupation and financial status if you are working.

Again, thank you to all concerned ex-Unum and Unum employees who contact us. Clients and those with Unum policies greatly appreciate your input and support. Sometimes you just have to decide which side of the moral compass you’re on.

Linda Nee’s Blog

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