The ugly truth about the American health care industry

20 August, 2009

An insightful interview with a 20-year employee of the American health care industry, now resigned and speaking out for health care reform.

Notable passages from the interview:

It doesn’t have to be stated directly to [corporate bureaucrats] 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.

For elective procedures in many of these countries, yes, you might wait longer for some elective procedure. You might wait longer for an MRI than you would in this country because, on a per capita basis, there are often more machines here than in some of those other systems. But life expectancy in almost every one of these other countries is greater than ours. People do not have to wait long for urgent or necessary care.

Reform without the public option would be far less meaningful and effective. The public option may not go as far as people would like in some ways, but we need a mechanism that controls costs and makes healthcare more available to citizens. It would go a long way toward keeping the insurance industry more honest, as the president has said.

It doesn’t make a lot of sense. On the one hand, [Conservatives are] saying that [a public option] would put the private sector at an unfair disadvantage, while they’re also saying that the private sector can operate more efficiently. They are trying to have it both ways. But the reality is that the free-market simply does not work in the healthcare sector as it might in other sectors. A public insurance plan wouldn’t need to have the sales, marketing, and underwriting expenses—and would certainly not need to pay executives exorbitant salaries, and would not need to set aside a significant chunk of every premium dollar to pay shareholders—that private plans do.

The reason I started speaking out is I knew the insurance industry would come out with guns blazing to kill reform. I knew the tactics they’d be using and buzzwords they’d be repeating—especially through their shills in Congress, media and business. It’s the same old playbook. I know it because I essentially helped write it. … Because we’re talking about billions and billions of dollars at stake for those companies and investors.

Medicare is far more popular than almost any private health insurance program in the country. And people in [Veteran’s Administration programs] are certainly very grateful. But many of them don’t know that it’s a public program.

One of the big PR firms [for] the insurance industry is APCO Worldwide. They’ve represented the industry for quite a long time. They’re skilled at setting up front groups to spread disinformation to challenge proposals. So they will get talking points into the hands of conservative radio talk show hosts and editorial writers at conservative publications. It all comes from the health insurance industry, but they spread this stuff in such a way that their fingerprints are not directly on it. … The tragic thing about these town hall meetings is how some of these angry citizens are being manipulated. When you see these stories about the meetings and how the participants are so concerned about government takeover of our healthcare system, they use the very words that were fed to them by the health insurance industry, not realizing that that’s where they came from, not realizing that they are unwitting pawns of the industry. Because they hear that stuff from people they believe are credible, like Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck.

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: