Tuesday, July 14, 2009

American Health Care Makes me Sick!

I just watched this interview with the former Vice President of Cigna Health Insurance, Wendell Potter (Click here to go to video). He gives a candid and heart wrenching look into the money, power and political games that are played in the health insurance industry. Here are a few of the Wendell Potter quotes that struck me:


"You don't think about individual people. You think about the numbers, and whether or not you're going to meet Wall Street's expectations. That's what you think about, at that level. And it helps to think that way. That's why you-- that enables you to stay there, if you don't really think that you're talking about and dealing with real human beings."

"The industry has always tried to make Americans think that government-run systems are the worst thing that could possibly happen to them, that if you even consider that, you're heading down on the slippery slope towards socialism. So they have used scare tactics for years and years and years, to keep that from happening. If there were a broader program like our Medicare program, it could potentially reduce the profits of these big companies. So that is their biggest concern."

"You know, we have more people who are uninsured in this country than the entire population of Canada. And that if you include the people who are underinsured, more people than in the United Kingdom."

"And another thing is that the advocates of reform or the opponents of reform are those who are saying that we need to be careful about what we do here, because we don't want the government to take away your choice of a health plan. It's more likely that your employer and your insurer is going to switch you from a plan that you're in now to one that you don't want. You might be in the plan you like now. But chances are, pretty soon, you're going to be enrolled in one of these high deductible plans in which you're going to find that much more of the cost is being shifted to you than you ever imagined."

"The industry doesn't want to have any competitor. In fact, over the course of the last few years, has been shrinking the number of competitors through a lot of acquisitions and mergers. So first of all, they don't want any more competition period. They certainly don't want it from a government plan that might be operating more efficiently than they are, that they operate. The Medicare program that we have here is a government-run program that has administrative expenses that are like three percent or so."

"Well, keep in mind, what they want to do is enhance their profits. Enhance shareholder value. That's number one. And the way that the business that they're in is health care, certainly. But their primary motivation is to reward their shareholders."

"And I'm a capitalist as well. I think it's a wonderful thing that companies can make a profit. But when you do it in such a way that you are creating a situation in which these companies are adding to the number of people who are uninsured and creating a problem of the underinsured then that's when we have a problem with it, or at least I do."

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