Flickr image by Center for American Progress
Wendell Potter has been in the news quite a bit lately. He's the former health insurance industry executive who is now speaking out about industry practices as we debate how to reform our current system of care. Welcome to OpEdNews, Wendell. Can you give our readers a bit of background about yourself?
I sure can. I'm a former journalist. I was a reporter and worked in Washington for a few years before I got into public relations. And I worked in the insurance industry for almost twenty years in the public relations and communications capacity and, most recently, head of corporate communications for CIGNA. I left that job in May of 2008.
While you were a PR executive, your job was to give health insurance a positive spin. Was that hard to do? Were you unaware of what was going on across the country?
For most of my career, I didn't feel conflicted. I felt strongly for many years in my career that the industry's intent was to get more people covered, and to add more people in plans that would actually get them the care they needed. It was only in the latter part of my career that I became aware that the health insurance industry was contributing more and more to the problem of the uninsured and to a growing and fairly new problem of the underinsured. And as I also climbed the corporate ladder, I was more aware of the kinds of health care plans that the insurance companies were trying to move us all into. They all featured high deductibles. And it was clear to me that middle Americans, people who are average wage-earners, sooner or later will not be able to afford to access care even if they have insurance because of the high deductibles they are expected to meet.