Former Health Insurance Spokesman Criticizes Industry Practices
A former health insurance spokesman speaks out against insurance practices. The Wall Street Journal/Dow Jones reports: "Wendell Potter, former chief spokesman for health insurer Cigna Corp., describes himself in his Twitter bio as a 'journalist who spent 20 years undercover as HMO PR flack, now writing all about it.' While Potter chuckles about the line, he is serious about his foray into the U.S. health reform debate, where he is campaigning for a public health-plan option and, with mild delivery and tough words, targeting what he calls 'deceptive and dishonest' tactics of a for-profit health insurance industry that's fighting such a plan."
The Journal reports: "Potter, who retired from Cigna in 2008 after 15 years, emerged last month as a former industry insider, testifying before the Senate Commerce Committee that insurers 'routinely dump policyholders who are less profitable or get sick,' as companies strive to appease Wall Street analysts and investors. Potter said a trip two years ago to a rural health fair in Wise County, Va., where people waited in animal stalls to receive medical attention, sparked his epiphany about uninsured Americans and an industry where he spent two decades."
The Journal reports: "Cigna and the industry are showing restraint in responding to Potter. He said he has heard from no one currently at Cigna, with the exception of a friend, and neither the company nor the industry's trade group has attacked him, although they take exception to his views on the industry and a public plan. Potter said competition from a government plan would pressure private insurers to cut administrative expenses and counter Wall Street pressure that has insurers looking for ways to avoid paying claims. He dismissed warnings about government bureaucrats making medical decisions under a public plan, saying, '[People already] have a corporate bureaucrat between them and their doctor'" (Brin, 7/20).
Meanwhile, The Chicago Tribune reports on one person's troubles with insurance to personalize the insurance practices issue. The Tribune looks at the experience of Michael Napientek of Clarendon Hills, who was authorized to have back surgery by his insurnace company, but then was denied the $148,000 claim (Yates, 7/21).