The Health Insurance CEOs Thank You for Your Sacrifice!

( – promoted by ClubTwitty)

To the thousands protesting attempts to inject competition into the for-profit health care insurance market, by parroting the words formulated by Fred Luntz, Republican Strategist:

“First,” he says, “you have to pretend to support it. Then use phrases like, “government takeover,” “delayed care is denied care,” “consequences of rationing,” “bureaucrats, not doctors prescribing medicine.”

The industry executives thank you.  Your willingness to sacrifice your and your family’s health and well-being, in order to insure the continuing lifestyle and rewards reaped annually by the insurance executives is deeply appreciated.

As former CIGNA VP Wendell Potter stated in both his congressional testimony, as well as on Bill Moyer’s Journal:

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.

The industry and its backers are using fear tactics, as they did in 1994, to tar a transparent and accountable, publicly accountable health care option as, quote, “government-run health care.” What we have today, Mr. Chairman, is Wall Street-run health care that has proven itself an untrustworthy partner to its customers, to the doctors and hospitals who deliver care and to the state and federal governments that attempt to regulate it.

…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.

BILL MOYERS: Why is public insurance, a public option, so fiercely opposed by the industry?

WENDELL POTTER: 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.

Of course, one way that the insurance companies can increase efficiencies and profits are to eliminate the “Problem” accounts — you know, the ones that actually need medical help.  They are using information systems so:

…the company could determine more about which accounts were not profitable or marginally profitable. So with that new system, he was able, and the other executives to identify the accounts that they wanted to get rid of. And over the course of a very few years, they shed 8 million members.

BILL MOYERS: 8 million policy holders?

WENDELL POTTER: 8 million people, men, women, and children, yes.

Some of them were shed by intention. Some, I’m sure, probably walked because the– or left for whatever other reason, but they intentionally had this program to purge these accounts. Eight million fewer people were enrolled in Aetna’s plans. Many of them undoubtedly joined the ranks of the uninsured, because their employers had been purged.

If you haven’t lost your job, gotten seriously ill, or had your coverage at work severely cut back or even dropped completely, count yourself lucky (so far).

So why does the insurance industry need your support in defeating reform, particularly if it means having a public option?

…the public plan would do a lot to keep them honest, because it would have to offer a standard benefit plan. It would have to operate more efficiently, as does the Medicare program. It would be structured, I’m certain on a level playing field, so that it wouldn’t be unfair advantage to the private insurance companies. But because it could be administered more efficiently, then the private insurers, they would have to operate more efficiently. And that 20 cents in that medical loss ratio we talked about earlier might get narrower. And they don’t want that.

…Now would we?

Here are the links to Bill Moyers Journal and the transcript that I have quoted from above:

Wendell Potter on Profits Before Patients

Full Transcript

Everyone opposing reform should ask themselves:  Is it worth defeating reform over your dead body?


27 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Libertad says:

    and your position all comes down to single payer.  Lets discuss HR 676 and its benefits to America

    • SSG_Dan says:

      The GOP Has one solution to everything, and none of it works. House on fire? Tax Cuts. Terrorists start on the offense in AFPAK? TAx Cut. Lost your health insurance because the industry is filled with souless, greedy bastards? Tax cuts.

      I thought Medicare sucked? Oh wait, some K Street strategist thought it was a way to go…

      • harrydoby says:

        As hard as it may be to believe, I think Lib is actually advocating Single Payer — HR 676 is Rep Conyers (D-Mich) bill to that effect.

        Not that it has a chance in hell of passing, even though the analysis indicates simply by cutting out all the red tape of our current for-profit system would realize a net saving of $200 billion a year, while covering the 46 million uninsured.

        As a pramatist, I’d settle for non-profits myself.

        The idea that a company’s business success depends on taking as much revenue as they can from healthy customers that don’t need their services, and minimizing the amount of money they give to sick or dying customers that do, is fundamentally wrong.

        • SSG_Dan says:

          What I think old ‘tad is ranting about is the “The Patients’ Choice Act of 2009” which the GOP has released as their Alternative. I thought it had been assigned that HR number, and my mind (dulled by painkillers and antibiotics) assumed that was it.

 lists over a 1000 bills and amendments on “Health.” At least I’m trying…

          • Libertad says:

            You’re like McGinnis in full denial freakout mode on KHOW.

            Back to 626 – its really the only other logical change besides taking costs and regulations out of the existing system.  Too bad it won’t be debated.

            • SSG_Dan says:

              When someone points out an error or inconsistency, responsible adults ‘fess up and admit their mistake.

              In your case, HD’s original post was about how the insurance industry gleefully drops anyone they thing might hurt the bottom line. Not so much about Single-Payer healthcare.

              And as usual, you went off into the Right-Wing-o-verse and MADE SHIT UP.

            • ClubTwitty says:

              is he someone in Colorado?

        • Libertad says:

          Applying Krugman’s $200 billion savings estimate to the U.S. population of approximately 300 million people representing 100 million households,[8] this amounts to approximately $650 per person or $2,000 per household. A study by Harvard University and the Canadian Institute for Health Information estimated the 1999 costs of U.S. healthcare administration at nearly $300 billion, accounting for 30.1% of healthcare expenses, versus 16.7% in Canada. This study estimated the U.S. per-person administrative cost at $1,059.[9] One organization that advocates nationalized healthcare estimated this savings could be as high as $350 billion per year and is comprised of “…overhead, underwriting, billing, sales and marketing departments as well as huge profits and exorbitant executive pay.”[10]

          The incremental cost of covering the 46 million [ed note: per Obama 30 million if you exclude illegal aliens] uninsured was not scored for this bill. However, a similar cost was estimated by the CBO at approximately $100 billion per year for the America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009.[11] This would partially offset the savings indicated above.

          You could even clip back services and keep the insurance companies around to work for those … as an example allow them to do catastrophic insurance, certain extreme measures, brain scans, heart scans, other body scans.  That would also give you Dems a great opportunity to tax the crap out of those services.

    • Go Blue says:

      Liebertard, do you have ADD? Need some Ritalin? Watch out though, that’s been government approved and as well know anything the government does is COMMUNISM!  

      • harrydoby says:

        Lib’s reply “Absolutely Not” was to answer my question:

        Everyone opposing reform should ask themselves:  Is it worth defeating reform over your dead body?

        In earlier threads, someone else was perplexed when he appeared to be on the “liberal” side of this issue.

        I know — stunningly contrary to all we know and love about Lib.

        Unfortunately, his call to debate single-payer is fruitless on many levels.  I wish it could be otherwise.

        • Libertad says:

          What employers really want (except those in the industry) is single payer.  That is one less HR function to manage and one less cost to deal with.

          Andrew Romanoff understands this and needs your help.  

          Businesses vendors (healthcare insurance, etc…) have done a marvelous job at raping their clients, raping their clients employees and then getting them all to have Stockholm syndrome.

          Any reform of the current system ie 3200 (other then making insurance compete more and doctors work harder and trail lawyers work less) will result in them enabling more subsidies and taxes by which they exclude high risks and take advantage of greater margins.  They are using you to lay off low margin clients to the back of government and the tax payer.

          Dems need to confront the moral dilemma here.  Hint: get businesses to side with shafting the insurance companies (“jobs”) just a bit and go with single payer.  Without this wall street will continue to allocate capital to the financing of insurance companies that make margin off of other peoples money and their sickness.

          Its really rather simple.

  2. BlueCat says:

    Dem pols in DC can’t get over their fear and stop dancing to Luntz’s tune.  Instead of attacking his catch phrases they just play D.  They should be out there every day explaining where all this garbage comes from and why instead of trying to convince people they’re really almost as American, freedom loving, patriotic and nice to grandmas as the Republicans.

    • harrydoby says:

      Also from Bill Moyers and Wendell Potters interview:

      But today, you’ve got some Democrats who are going along with the industry.

      Max Baucus, the senator from Montana, for example, the most important figure right now in this health care legislation that’s being written in the Senate. He’s resisted including a public insurance option in the reform bill, right?

      WENDELL POTTER: That’s right.

      BILL MOYERS: Why is the industry so powerful on both sides of the aisle?

      WENDELL POTTER: Well, money and relationships, ideology. The relationships– an insurance company can hire and does hire many different lobbying firms. And they hire firms that are predominantly Republican and predominantly Democrat. And they do this because they know they need to reach influential members of Congress like Max Baucus. So there are people who used to work for Max Baucus who are in lobbying firms or on the staff of companies like CIGNA or the association itself.

      So, some of the Dems’ overabundance of caution is really related to their desire to keep their jobs, and the Health Care companies are more than happy to apply both carrots and sticks to keep them in line.

      • SSG_Dan says:

        I can only imagine what crazy she’ll come up with to protect the steady stream of checks she gets…

        • DavidThi808 says:

          DeGette has been out front trying to fix healthcare.

          • SSG_Dan says:

            If it’s ok to beat the shit out of Bob Schaffer for all the Oil money he received in his election cycle, it’s fair game on DeGette.

            Actually more so – last election cycle, with no primary opponent and no real GOP opponent, she got more money from Health Care than Bob got from the Oil Industry.


            So, yes, I get to question her motives. EVERYONE in CD1 should.

            • harrydoby says:

              Jesse Unruh

              Not to be overly cynical, but I’m actually looking at DeGette’s actions, more than her amount of HC donations.  She has enough clout as Whip that she will draw impressive donations from organizations that have little desire to help common citizens.  

              But her position has given her equal power to turn around and vote against her PAC contributors.  Such is the way of our current environment.  The sleazier your cause, the less your contributions are worth.

        • DaftPunk says:

          …You’d be surprised by the odds between her stance and her contributions.

          She’s stongly for the public option.

          I asked one of her local staffers how she could have her position (on the issues) and take all that dough, and all I got was a shrug.  I think it has more to do with her position in leadership, as she seems to be ahead of (to the left of) party leadership.

      • BlueCat says:

        It’s huge for Senators like Baucus from sparsely populated states.  They have a very small pool for citizen contributions and really get hooked on the big money they can only get by playing ball with the likes of the huge health and health insurance interests. The best grass roots internet organization on the planet can only get so much out of so few.

        Not only do they get hooked but they must be painfully aware that these interests can easily spend the money to crush them in states with such small populations. Whose interests are they going to be more concerned about?  Pretty depressing.

  3. PolitianWatch says:

    In order for America to recover we first have to reach our bottom and the sooner the better.  Now if our insurance goes up to $24K for a family of four perhaps we will reach our bottom and will finally get the healthcare reform we need.  We still have a ways to go and America needs to sink lower.  What I wonder is will we ever recover from our denial, lies, spin and stupidity? We may not but we will have no one to blame but ourselves.  

  4. Danny the Red (hair) says:


    An article on health insurance CEOs

    Perhaps a slight bit of context is in order, however: it has struck me that Aetna’s Ronald Williams received $24,300,112 last year. That’s $467,309.85 per week. That’s a house. Maybe not a house that Mr. Williams would live in, but a house nonetheless. The man makes a house a week.

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