Another “insured” person cheated out of “insurance” by ERISA; UPDATE: Guardian caves in response to public pressure

Ian Pearl, since birth, has suffered from muscular dystrophy. He is now 37 years old, and is confined to a wheelchair and hooked to a breathing tube.

Fortunately for Ian, he had “insurance” through the ERISA plan offered by his father’s company. So while his health was terrible, he at least would have access to adequate care and his family could avoid going bankrupt from medical bills.

Not so fast. His insurance carrier, Guardian Life Insurance Company, decided it was just too expensive to live up to its contractual obligations to cover the care required by Ian and others like him.

So Guardian just pulled the plug. According to the Washington Times:

Legally barred from discriminating against individuals who submit large claims, the New York-based insurer simply canceled lines of coverage altogether in entire states to avoid paying high-cost claims like Mr. Pearl’s.

At least Guardian was compassionate about condemning Ian to a life of inadequate medical care for his debilitating condition. You can just hear them choking back their tears:

In an e-mail to four other Guardian executives entered into evidence in the Pearls’ suit, company Vice President Tim Birely discussed how the company could “eliminate this entire block to get rid of the few dogs.”

Now how on earth is this legal? Simple:

The judge found that the company had not violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), because it canceled entire policy lines.

Sorry, Ian. To Guardian, you’re just one of the “few dogs” they need to dispense with.


Daylight,as they say, is the best disinfectant. In response to public pressure and lots of media coverage and widespread outrage, Guardian has caved and reinstated Mr. Pearl’s coverage.

Now about all those people who didn’t make the headlines…