Health Care Insider

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Wendell Potter, senior fellow on healthcare at the Center for Media and Democracy, former head of corporate communications for CIGNA and author, Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR Is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans, discusses the insurance industry and healthcare today.  


Wendell Potter

Comments [34]

dboy from nyc


Nov. 16 2010 12:12 PM
dboy from nyc

No one EVER discusses the imposed paradigm linking employment and healthcare.

Clearly a tool to subjugate a working class for the Korporate® military/industrial complex.

This stuff is no coincidence!

Nov. 16 2010 12:08 PM
dboy from nyc

LIBERATE healthcare from employment. Make capitalism open to all. What better way to stimulate a stagnant economy than to allow people to take (reasonable) risks by leaving unsatisfying employment to create new businesses and hire new employees! If your family is held hostage by the health insurance industry you cannot afford to strike out on your own. This separation would also relieve small business the burden of providing health insurance to it's employees!!! It would encourage more hiring!!! Reduce costs for small businesses!!!

Let's even the playing field!


Nov. 16 2010 11:51 AM
Amy from Manhattan

I'm a freelancer, & the unofficial insurance liaison for the Editorial Freelancers Association, so I've had the chance to see the policies & actions of health insurance providers (& I'm speaking on the basis of that experience but not on behalf of the EFA). We work mostly through third-party administrators (TPAs), who make ongoing efforts against increasing obstacles to secure & keep health coverage options for members of the EFA & other associations. Insurance providers have generally reduced coverage & raised rates over the years. Cigna in particular has pulled entirely out of offering insurance through associations in 3 states in the last 7 years w/little (& in 1 case, no) notice, leaving the TPAs scrambling to find replacement coverage for ass'n. members who were losing it as a result. I never saw any reporting on this, even though I wrote to several media outlets to let them know this was happening.

I appreciate Wendell Potter's decision to blow the whistle & stop being part of a company that has treated its members this way, in addition to the other abuses of power he described.

Nov. 16 2010 11:45 AM

david from montclair
"Let us purchase our health insurance from out-of-state companies. COMPETITION!"

competition or race to the bottom. we don't want to buy our HEALTH insurance from alabama

Nov. 16 2010 11:37 AM
dboy from nyc



Nov. 16 2010 11:31 AM
Charles Markwell from Ossining

People forget that the prupose of a for-profit corporation is to maximise returns to stockholders. How they do this depends on the industry. Insurers sell insurance and they're concern is to sell at the highest price they can and provide the least amount of product in return.

This explains why an insurer can talk about service and concern for the subscribers and then increase premiums while cutting benefits.

Only a single payer system (such as Taiwan's) can avoid this dilemma.

Nov. 16 2010 11:29 AM
Henry from Katonah

My experience with private insurance companies changed in the past 10 years.
Ten years ago , when I phoned customer service , the rep would ask me to go through a few more steps. Sometimes I would get a payment after jumping through those hoops.
More recently, the customer svc reps would immediately tell me that my expense was not covered and why. Since Reagan, Republicans have kept talking about government bureaucrats as if THEY were the worst. But Insurance company bureaucrats are now worse , from my perspective.
Obamacare changes came not a day too soon. I am already seeing the benefits - no wellness maximum on my plan next year.
How did the GOP get so much traction on this issue? It must be the ignorance of the public and its GOP media enablers, including NPR.

Nov. 16 2010 11:28 AM
JP from Park Slope

Great Work Wendell. Now can we figure out how to push more against the AMA and get toward a single payer plan ? The media is in cahoots because they are just not educated.
God bless Wendell....!

Nov. 16 2010 11:28 AM
ginger from New Jersey

Your guest is so on target. Our small business has been given 25 to 27% increases per year for many, many years now. Each year we must give up more insurance in order to get the rate increase down to at least 15%.
We do not have many choices in New Jersey.

Nov. 16 2010 11:27 AM
Henry from Manhattan

It's call the Affordable Care Act.

Not "Obamacare."

Nov. 16 2010 11:27 AM
david from montclair

Want prices to fall? Want better services? Let us purchase our health insurance from out-of-state companies. COMPETITION!

Nov. 16 2010 11:26 AM

What was the study the guest just cited to show that recent health care cost increases were not due to reform measures?

Nov. 16 2010 11:25 AM
dboy from nyc



Nov. 16 2010 11:25 AM
Donna from Bloomfield, NJ

My son was recently hospitalized after a dizzy spell. He had grown six inches last year and I had had similar conditions when I was young. The neurologist and hospital kept him there for 5 days running every test under the sun. I knew from the beginning that his real disease was too much insurance. I am from Canada and I'm appalled at the waste and collusion. Doctors doing too many tests, hospitals billing excessively. No common sense and profit for the insurance companies. Single payer is the only way to take the profit out and Obama was too timid to fight the whole fight. My son has good coverage under his father's plan I have horrid coverage for a high price that covers nothing. The system is broken. If anything happens to me, the first place I'm going is back to Canada.

Nov. 16 2010 11:25 AM
Lisa Trusiani

I plan to send my son to college in Canada so he will eventually become a dual citizen there and have health insurance.

Nov. 16 2010 11:23 AM

don't keep the myths going. even britain still has private insurance if you want to buy it.

Nov. 16 2010 11:23 AM

Has there been anything positive for people as a result of HMO and health insurance. Have there been advances for the general welfare due to the current system.

Nov. 16 2010 11:23 AM
Liam from East Elmhurst

Last comment on the religion angle.

Sometimes in rage moments, I do want to comment on these extremist right-wing church people who seem more concerned with the protocols of religion than it's true and valid concepts/precepts.

In the end, abortion will always be a matter of conscience as the death penalty or anything else.
First lead as "I am the way and the light and the truth-he that believes in me though he may die, yet shall he live."

It will all fall in place in a literate society that reads a GD book once in a while on philosophy or even the Bible, but, not an overworked over-solicieted by commericals society that we have now-stick that in your BLOOMBERG !

Nov. 16 2010 11:23 AM
DarkSymbolist from NYC!

I wonder why Brian insists on calling healthcare reform "Obamacare"? It's a right wing trope. Too much FOX news infecting your brain, Brian?

Nov. 16 2010 11:23 AM
Maria from Manhattan

PLEASE ASK MR. POTTER about the role of McKinsey & Co. in advising insurance companies how to raise their profits.

Nov. 16 2010 11:21 AM

Most whistleblowers have a an axe to grind with their industry. And, that axe has nothing to do about the greater good of humanity. I was wondering what Cigna did to Mr. Potter to make him become a whistleblower.

Nov. 16 2010 11:21 AM
Jeff Pappas from Ct.

Hi Brian
I think this is important
I recently switched health Ins Co's to save $ by changing from a higher premium / lower deductible to a lower premium / higher deductible and stand to save about 100-150 month. I went through an agent and gave him the info from my old Co which I had for over 4 years. I have no major health issues, yet do take some medicine for anxiety ( I am upset and nervous about not having work for almost 2 years ). I told the agent I did not want to go through any waiting period, did not want to be denied for taking my medicine and did not want any lapse in coverage. He said I would be 100 % accepted or rejected. So I waited till I was accepted to cancel my previous plan.
Then a week or so after I had my new plan they told me I was not covered for that area due to pre existing conditions !!
I about blew a Gasket ! After calling all parties concerned and worrying for over a week I was finally 100 % covered
Apparently I needed a form called " credible coverage " Which NO ONE asked me for before I switched !
Needless to say I am totally put off by this whole experience and want to WARN EVERYONE about these loopholes the Insurance Cos have, also perhaps some ignorance or down right illegal activity
Thanks for listening

Nov. 16 2010 11:21 AM
Ken from Little Neck

I find it unconscionable that we encourage a system where profitability is in direct opposition to good health. The health care reform law helps limit some of the more egregious abuses, but the core problem remains. Until the government guarantees quality health care for all, without regard to income or profit margins, people will continue to die because we've entrusted for-profit corporations with our health.

Nov. 16 2010 11:19 AM
Stephanie from US

I have a friend whose parents are constantly told by their insurance company that Medicare law won't allow them to pay for services and that's why they have to use "lesser" services. I have no idea how true this is. But is this a policy of the insurance company, to tell patients that it's medicare law restricts payment or services?

Nov. 16 2010 11:19 AM
Liam from East Elmhurst

Question-could all the monied powers defunct a public health care system simply by employing that money in a crusade against it if it passed?

(just want to hear the guy talk on it)

Nov. 16 2010 11:16 AM
Alex from Manhattan

Do you know how rescissions will be handled by life insurance and long-term care insurance companies? The situation is similar, because these companies may also look back at the original application and refuse benefits due to minor mistakes -- even if the application forms were filled out in good faith.

Nov. 16 2010 11:16 AM
Lena from Brooklyn

Dear Brian,

Please ask this former insurance exec for his opinion on single payer health care for the nation. Can we get there?

Nov. 16 2010 11:16 AM
Edward from NJ

While for-profits dominate the industry, there are still a good number of nonprofit insurers out there. How do they compare for cost and quality of care? I don't hear much about this, and it would seem like an easy statistic to get at.

Nov. 16 2010 11:14 AM

I'm told this is a christian nation, I take us at our word, but where is the compassion?

Nov. 16 2010 11:13 AM
Linda from Brielle, NJ

Remote Area Medical is one of my favorite charities. I was amazed when I first saw RAM on 60 minutes a few years back. I can't wait for the day when this is no longer needed in this country, but I have a feeling I will be giving to RAM for years and years to come.

Nov. 16 2010 11:13 AM
jmurphy from nassau county

I understand that the cost of universal healthcare frightens people, but how do we not realize that in our society we are essentially saying people with good insurance are more valuable than those without?

Our system only allows people to get the type of healthcare they can afford, which puts healthcare on the same level as buying a car or a TV. That says something about us as people.

Nov. 16 2010 11:03 AM
Liam from East Elmhurst

Let 'um all die!
Oh, and, don't forget to be religious!

Sometimes, my faith is in doubt and I appear to be less faithful in my country when I see it's cold cruelness. It is now best exemplified in the "cut-and-dry" corporate quality of "the bottom line" mentality applied to the society's needs as a whole. Too bad, this is how great empires fell-neglecting their own.

Nov. 16 2010 11:03 AM

profit over lives
the american way

Nov. 16 2010 10:40 AM

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