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Former Health Insurance Industry insider now speaking out…

potter picThe Health Care Industry vs. Health Reform

June 25, 2009 by Healthcare-NOW! 
By: Wendell Potter for prwatch.org//Wendell Potter is the Senior Fellow on Health Care for the Center for Media and Democracy in Madison, Wisconsin.

I’m the former insurance industry insider now speaking out about how big for-profit insurers have hijacked our health care system and turned it into a giant ATM for Wall Street investors, and how the industry is using its massive wealth and influence to determine what is (and is not) included in the health care reform legislation members of Congress are now writing.

Although by most measures I had a great career in the insurance industry (four years at Humana and nearly 15 at CIGNA), in recent years I had grown increasingly uncomfortable serving as one of the industry’s top PR executives. In addition to my responsibilities at CIGNA, which included serving as the company’s chief spokesman to the media on all corporate and financial matters, I also served on a lot of trade association committees and industry-financed coalitions, many of which were essentially front groups for insurers. So I was in a unique position to see not only how Wall Street analysts and investors influence decisions insurance company executives make but also how the industry has carried out behind-the-scenes PR and lobbying campaigns to kill or weaken any health care reform efforts that threatened insurers’ profitability.

I also have seen how the industry’s practices — especially those of the for-profit insurers that are under constant pressure from Wall Street to meet their profit expectations — have contributed to the tragedy of nearly 50 million people being uninsured as well as to the growing number of Americans who, because insurers now require them to pay thousands of dollars out of their own pockets before their coverage kicks in — are underinsured. An estimated 25 million of us now fall into that category.

What I saw happening over the past few years was a steady movement away from the concept of insurance and toward “individual responsibility,” a term used a lot by insurers and their ideological allies. This is playing out as a continuous shifting of the financial burden of health care costs away from insurers and employers and onto the backs of individuals. As a result, more and more sick people are not going to the doctor or picking up their prescriptions because of costs. If they are unfortunate enough to become seriously ill or injured, many people enrolled in these plans find themselves on the hook for such high medical bills that they are losing their homes to foreclosure or being forced into bankruptcy.

As an industry spokesman, I was expected to put a positive spin on this trend that the industry created and euphemistically refers to as “consumerism” and to promote so-called “consumer-driven” health plans. I ultimately reached the point of feeling like a huckster.

I thought I could live with being a well-paid huckster and hang in there a few more years until I could retire. I probably would have if I hadn’t made a completely spur-of-the-moment decision a couple of years ago that changed the direction of my life.   (Read the rest of the story…)

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Read more on Wendell Potter – (Link)

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Keep the Preasure On  – ASAP – Call, write, fax or e-mail all your representatives and tell them they must support Single Payer  HR676.    LINK

Now Call or Fax  Senator Max Baucus and tell him that SINGLE PAYER is indeed on the table &  let him know how much you “don’t respect” his performance!   And, remind him that he is representing the country, NOT  the health insurance & pharma industry in Healthcare Reform!  Phone: (202) 224-2651 (Office)   //  (202) 224-9412 (Fax)

And one moreCall President Obama at the White House (202-456-1414 or  202- 456-1111) and tell him what a mess Senator Max Baucus is making, arresting Doctors and Nurses, etc …  then remind him he said, “everyone would have a seat at the table”, tell him Single Payer is not for later, the time is NOW! 

Visit the Healthcare-Now ,  the Physicians for a National Health Program  and Health-Justice web sites to learn more!

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