The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Private Health Insurance:
Death Panels

Sep 14, 2009

Wendell Potter used to be head of corporate communications at healthcare industry giants, first Humana and then Cigna. He admits that he was part of the scare stories designed to prevent any change in U.S. health care: “Over the years, I helped craft this message and deliver it.”

But in 2007 Mr. Potter said his conscience made him quit his job and begin to testify about the health care industry’s practices.

In recent interviews on radio and television, Potter said health insurance companies follow three major strategies: (1) to deny requests for any procedure that are expensive; (2) to cancel policies for the insured when someone finally needs care for an expensive disease; (3) to raise premiums sky-high on small businesses when one of their employees gets sick, which are then passed onto the workforce through higher co-pays and premiums.

And these methods were expected of their employees and not just at the companies where Potter worked. Potter cites the example of a Blue Cross employee, who earned a perfect performance evaluation for finding a legal way to drop thousands of policyholders. Their care would have cost ten million dollars.

On his blog, Potter admitted that he participated in “deceitful and dishonest PR campaigns that worked so well, hundreds of thousands of our citizens have died, and millions of others have lost their homes and been forced into bankruptcy, so that a very few corporate executives and their Wall Street masters could become obscenely rich.”

In other words, corporate boards – staffed by health insurance executives – are the real “death panels” that already exist.