‘Dump the sick’

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“My name is Wendell Potter, and for twenty years, 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.”

The writer is  a former Cigna executive who has written a book about his experiences in the insurance industry.  His book,   Deadly Spin, just out from Bloomsbury Press, promises to confirm some of your worst nightmares about  the industry; his blog, from which this excerpt is drawn, is over at Huffington Post.

There’s no one reason for the rising costs of health care to consumers like you and me. Patients, doctors, hospitals, government, drug companies, insurance companies and a whole host of other stakeholders  have a hand in this. Consumers will talk honestly and with real pain; so will doctors. Meanwhile, it’s easy to consider the insurance companies to be the villains — after all, it’s my insurance premiums that are rising exponentially, and my insurance claims that are denied, or paid only partially. I’d really like to talk to someone in the insurance industry about the industry view of Obamacare, rising costs and the general state of health care in this country. Honestly, on the record.

Meanwhile, this new book is high on my to-read list.

Potter’s take on the industry is exemplified by this excerpt from his blog in October during the meeting of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners on regulations attached to health-care reform:

“United [HealthGroup, a major national insurer, and my personal insurance carrier] announced Tuesday morning that its third-quarter profit jumped 23% — much more than investors and analysts had expected — largely because it spent far less of its customers’ premiums on medical care than it did this time last year. When an insurance company spends less of every premium dollar it takes in on medical care, it has more left over to reward shareholders and a handful of senior managers who already are among the highest-paid executives on the planet.

“United’s announcement is cause for joy because maybe, just maybe, the nation’s state insurance commissioners — whom Congress gave the responsibility of determining how major parts of the new law will be implemented — will finally realize that they don’t need to give the big insurers the truck-sized loopholes they have been lobbying so hard for over the past several weeks.”