Tuesday, August 18, 2009

the 800lb gorilla says so

h/t to jonmower.com

Why I'm in favor of health care reform--Crunchy Con

The author of the article linked above quotes at length from an interview of Wendell Potter, the former Cigna exec who's been saying to everyone who will listen why he favors health care reform. From the interview:

Guernica: Shifting to President Obama's plan: critics often say that Obama's healthcare plan would be detrimental to care because it would take decisions away from doctors and patients and put them in the hands of a government bureaucrat. Is this a legitimate concern?

Wendell Potter: No. But it is one of those talking points the industry repeats every time we have a debate about reform. They said it in 1993. They say it whenever the industry is under threat of increased government involvement. What I'm telling people is that our current reality is far scarier than the fear-mongering. What people have now is a corporate bureaucrat who stands between a person and his or her doctor. That's much scarier than the specter of more government. In any event, there is nothing in any healthcare plan that is being proposed that would put a government bureaucrat between a person and his or her doctor.

Guernica: Why is a corporate bureaucrat scarier?

Wendell Potter: Because every person who works for a for-profit company knows that the company has to meet Wall Street's expectations. Every manager of the company has to pull his or her weight to make sure he and his team are doing all that they can to help the company meet that objective. That includes medical directors. Same with the nurses. They know what the company has to do to meet Wall Street's expectations and to stay in the good graces of investors.

Guernica: So in other words, corporate bureaucrats have a profit incentive to deny care to people who are enrolled in their plans.

Wendell Potter: Absolutely. It doesn't have to be stated directly to them that you will be paid a particular bonus if you deny X number of claims; it's known, and it's part of the culture.


It's also worth re-posting here a bit from factcheck.org:

We would note, as does Obama, that denials of coverage are routine among private health insurance companies and under Medicare in our current system, and we asked McClusky [of the Family Research Council] about that. Why would such decisions about care be more objectionable under a public plan, for instance, than they are when Aetna or UnitedHealthcare denies coverage? "We find it more troubling when the federal government is doing it," he said. "It’s the 800-lb gorilla."

Of course, the 800 lb. gorilla claims it wants to provide, not deny, access to insurance and health care coverage, but hell--who believes what the 800 lb. gorilla says? Oh, unless it's the unlikely spokes(notquite)person for an insurance company chatting you up in the sauna. That 800 lb. gorilla, you can trust. He's got a profit motive, after all.

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