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for 20 years, Wendell Potter worked as a senior executive at health insurance companies, and saw how they confuse their customers and dump the sick -- all so they can satisfy their Wall Street investors. Wendell Potter is an Analyst at the Center for Public Integrity; Former insurance company executive; Author of Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR Is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans and and Obamacare: What’s in It for Me? What Everyone Needs to Know About the Affordable Care Act
Is Crony Capitalism a Big Reason for America's Dental Health Care Crisis?
For an example of how Big Money in politics is causing real harm to average Americans, look at the practice of dentistry in this country.
The United States is facing a dental care crisis for a number of reasons. First, dental care has become so expensive many of us can't afford to go the dentist.
Friday, June 26, 2015(14 comments)
Insurers' arguments key to Supreme Court decision
It is clear from both the first paragraph and closing comments in the Supreme Court's decision upholding Obamacare subsidies that the justices listened more closely to the insurance industry than perhaps any other party.
The best health care system in the world? Nonsense!
Americans spend more per capita on health care than people anywhere else in the world, yet outcomes in every other developed country are better on almost every measure, from infant mortality to life expectancy.
A big reason for that is our collective gullibility. We continue to believe what many politicians tell us, despite evidence to the contrary: that we have the best health care system in the world.
OPINION: Pro-industry amendments lard up Missouri insurance legislation
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is facing a dilemma. Should he sign a bill that was intended to help many state residents get coverage for cost-effective health care that insurers often refuse to pay for?
Or veto the bill because it is loaded with amendments that will benefit insurers and force many Missourians to pay far more for medical care than they do now?
Tuesday, June 18, 2013(2 comments)
An Outbreak of Sanity
There is reason to be hopeful that our lawmakers can put aside their ideological differences every now and then and do what makes sense for constituents.
In fact, last week some of the people we have elected to represent us--at least at the state level--even showed a willingness to put careers at risk by doing what they believe is the right thing.
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
A Rare Bipartisan Idea to Improve Medicaid and Save Money
Around the time the House of Representatives was voting for the 30-somethingth time to repeal Obamacare, two lawmakers from Texas -- Democrat Gene Green and Republican Joe Barton -- introduced legislation to fix a problem that most folks with private insurance know nothing about. That's because it only affects the poorest among us who are eligible for Medicaid.
Industry Pushes High-Deductible Insurance Plans
Increasingly, employers of all sizes are eliminating choice and offering only high-deductible plans -- euphemistically referred to in the insurance world as consumer-directed health plans or HDHPs.
Within the next few years, most Americans not only will find that the plans they've been enrolled in for years are no longer available, but that they will also have to pay much more out-of-pocket
Tuesday, March 26, 2013(1 comments)
Gaming Obamacare to Benefit the Few
Insurance agents/brokers are working to pass laws in the states that would make it difficult, time consuming and expensive for consumer groups to serve as "navigators" to educate people about Obamacare and help them find Exchange insurance plans that meet their needs. They even hope to prevent people from buying coverage except through licensed agents/ brokers, which will also drive up costs by adding commissions.
Getting young people to work against their own best interests: here's how it's done
In my book, Deadly Spin, I described the PR playbook health insurers, tobacco companies and other special interests use to influence public policy, often by deceptive means.
One tried-and-true tactic is to recruit third parties to help deliver your talking points -- hopefully, individuals and organizations that are held in higher regard by the public than your own company or industry.
Get Ready to Get Spun -- Again -- By Masters of Spin
The big healthcare monopolies gave Republicans a vast amount of money in hopes they would win the election & repeal or gut the Affordable Care Act. They failed. Expect Karen Ignagni, president of America's Health Insurance Plans & her healthcare industry cohorts to turn up the heat & the spin to get more control of your health & money. Beware.
Monday, August 6, 2012
It Took Public Shaming Via Twitter to Get Big Insurer to Cover Grad Student's Cancer Care
Aetna's disclosed last week that it made $458 million in profits this spring, said it expected to make more money this year than previously thought possible. Aetna also set aside 3/4s of a billion dollars from policyholders to buy back shares of its own stock instead of paying more claims. But a few days before that, Aetna's CEO got a real-world understanding of just how inadequate some of the company's policies are.
UnitedHealth Group's Misleading Promises To Honor Obamacare Provisions
Story after story appeared in the mainstream media last week indicating that UnitedHealth Group planned to "honor " some provisions of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) even if the Supreme Court declares it unconstitutional.
Left unsaid and largely ignored by the media is the fact that only provisions UnitedHealth likes will be kept while many others they do not like but are popular with the public will be jettisoned.
Monday, June 11, 2012(5 comments)
Insurance Industry Myths About Uninsured "Young Invincibles"
Contrary to Health Insurance Industry propaganda, most uninsured young Americans are not uninsured by choice. The Affordable Care Act has enabled millions of 19 to 26-year-olds to remain on their parents' policies. Millions more with uninsured parents and no jobs remain uninsured.
Monday, June 4, 2012
Guess Who Would Benefit From Privatizing Medicare?
If you think the idea of privatizing Medicare has gone away, that the health insurance industry has thrown in the towel on one of its biggest goals, there was fresh evidence last week that you would be wrong.
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Palin's Rhetoric Torpedoed Medicare Savings
If we're fortunate, some courageous candidates will call for renewed debate on a provision of the health care reform bill that had once enjoyed bipartisan support. The one that spineless Democrats decided had to be yanked when a certain former vice presidential nominee claimed, falsely, that it would create government-run "death panels."
Monday, April 2, 2012(8 comments)
Hope the Supremes strike down ObamaCare? Get ready for PanemCare
The movie Hunger Games portrays a government completely disconnected from the people who struggle every day for the most basic elements of survival, including medical care. Only the wealthy residents of the Capitol have access to hospitals and modern medicine, which, fortunately for them, seems to have a cure for everything.
If the SCOTUS justices decide to scuttle ObamaCare, it won't be long before we have PanemCare.
Health Care Myths and Realties: Seeking the truth about high-deductible plans.
Health Insurance companies suggest that companies who haven't moved all of their employees into a high-deductible plan are inept. But studies by nonprofit organizations that don't sell insurance have found that high-deductible plans "have significantly greater difficulty" accessing care due to cost compared to people in plans with lower or no deductible, and that people who are very sick are at a particular disadvantage.
Wednesday, February 22, 2012(1 comments)
Taking the Initiative in a Struggle Against Excessive Rate Increases
California has opted to go the route of a ballot initiative to empower the California Insurance Commissioner to reject excessive health insurance rate increases. A similar measure placed before the California Legislature last year was defeated following intense lobbying by the insurance industry. The Affordable Care Act empowers Federal and State regulators to criticize excessive rate increases, but not to reject them.
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Even the Catholic Bishops Should Bless This Health Insurance Mandate
At long last, despite hefty lobbying by the health insurance industry, HHS has issued a final rule requiring insurers and employers to spell out what their what their healthcare benefit plans cover and what it will cost the insured if they get sick, injured, or pregnant.
Monday, February 6, 2012(5 comments)
The Battle for Vermont's Health
Vermont is seeking to become the first state to institute single-payer healthcare. That will never happen if the health insurance special interests have anything to say about it.
Mitt Romney's Health Care Fantasy World
Wendell Potter explains that not everyone can cavalierly "fire" their insurance companies, as Mitt Romney boast he enjoys doing. In the real world the insurance company holds all the cards, we have little choice but to go submit to their demands.
A Determined Dog Goes After Insurers Again to Save Consumers Billions
If there is one organization that insurers despise and fear more than any other, it surely must be Consumer Watchdog.
Since its founding in 1985, Los Angeles-based Consumer Watchdog has dogged insurers relentlessly and played a key role numerous times in forcing them to change business practices and price their policies more fairly. I first heard of the organization in 1996 when I was still an insurance industry spokesman.
The Affordable Care Act? What the Heck Is That?
The Kaiser Family Foundation just released the findings of its annual survey of businesses to determine how much the cost of employer-sponsored health coverage has gone up. There were some unexpected findings. What seems clear is that insurers decided last year to charge their customers considerably more than necessary this year to be able to meet Wall Street's profit expectations;
Marcus Welby, M.D. Had it Right: House Calls Save Money and Improve Care
Dr. Bruce Kinosian still makes house calls. He's convinced that if more doctors did what he does, and as the TV character Marcus Welby did back in the '60s and '70s, we could eliminate billions of dollars we currently spend in this country in an often ineffective -- and almost always unnecessarily expensive -- effort to get people well.
Monday, August 1, 2011(13 comments)
Fresh Evidence That Health Insurers Value Profits Over People
Insurance industry executives are experts at talking in code, which makes it difficult to understand just how much they value profits over people. Occasionally, though, they slip up, as Aetna's chief financial officer, Joseph Zubretsky, did last Wednesday during his company's conference call with analysts.
Insurers' Bait and Switch
Over the past several years, insurers have been implementing a strategic plan to "migrate" (their term) all of their policyholders out of traditional indemnity and managed care plans into so-called "consumer-driven" plans, which feature high deductibles. They have been luring people into these plans by setting premiums for high-deductible plans lower than HMOs and PPOs, at least initially
Blue Shield's PR Coup
Non-profit health insurer Blue Shield announced they would be capping their profits at 2%, a move designed to boost PR after being panned for announcing premium increases over 80% despite billions in reserves.
Tuesday, May 31, 2011(4 comments)
Health Insurers Have Had Their Chance
Of the many supporters of a single-payer health care system in the United States, some of the most ardent are small business owners who have struggled to continue offering coverage to their workers.
Among them are David Steil, a small business owner and former Republican -- yes, Republican -- state legislator in Pennsylvania who earlier this year became president of the advocacy group Health Care 4 All PA
Wednesday, May 18, 2011(1 comments)
Got Health Insurance? Pray You Won't Get "Purged"
U.S. health insurers are reporting record profits, and their CEOs are topping the list of highest paid corporate executives while they purge small businesses they no longer consider profitable enough.
Sunday, May 1, 2011(2 comments)
Health Execs Get Richer as Some Americans Beg for Help to Pay Bills
Molly shared this tragic healthcare horror story with us that evening at F&M because Scott cannot.Scott, a Lancaster attorney in the prime of life, was stricken with ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease. He can communicate via miracles of modern technology,by moving his eyes,but he cannot speak or move on his own,nor live without 24-hour care, a respirator, etc. The bad news is they have exhausted his lifetime coverage cap.
The Insurers' Real Agenda for Change
Congress gave health insurers exactly what they wanted by including in last year's health care legislation a requirement that all Americans not eligible for Medicare or Medicaid buy coverage from a private insurance company. Now they aim to strip from the health care law key regulations and consumer protections that aren't to their liking.
Rally Against Wall Street's Health Care Takeover
I'm ashamed that I let myself get caught up in deceitful and dishonest PR campaigns that worked so well, hundreds of thousands of our citizens have died, and millions of others have lost their homes and been forced into bankruptcy, so that a very few corporate executives and their Wall Street masters could become obscenely rich.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009(5 comments)
Health Insurance Exec Whistleblower Wendell Potter Testifies Before Congress
I worked as a senior executive at health insurance companies, and I saw how they confuse their customers and dump the sick "" all so they can satisfy their Wall Street investors.
I know from personal experience that members of Congress and the public have good reason to question the honesty and trustworthiness of the insurance industry
Wednesday, July 1, 2009(3 comments)
Obama's False Friends of Health Reform
I'm hoping President Obama realizes that some of the folks who've been currying favor with him are not, as they claim, bringing "solutions" to the health care reform table. Most Americans -- especially those who voted for him -- want nothing to do with the kind of "reforms" they are peddling.