Insurance Workers: We’re Not ‘Villains’
Politicians have targeted the insurance industry in their pitch to overhaul health care. House speaker Nancy Pelosi went as far as calling insurers "villains" and "immoral." "I'm certainly not villainous or immoral in any way, shape or form," Max Shireman, a project manager for the insurer Humana, told The New York Times. Various insurance company employees had different interpretations and explanations for their demonization.
They include: backlash against the industry's campaign against the creation of a new government-run insurance plan, much cherished by Democrats; the facelessness of insurers compared to other health care players who are also responsible for the system's problems, like doctors and patients; and that Americans interact with insurers when things are already going wrong. "Our industry gets blame for virtually everything that goes on in health care that people don't like," said Humana's president, Michael B. McCallister told the Times (Sack, 8/27).
Meanwhile, UnitedHealth Group spent $1 million on lobbying in Washington during the second quarter, The Associated Press/Forbes reports, a drop compared with last year. "United Health lobbied on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Health Care Safety Net Act, Medicare Advantage and children's health insurance, among other topics" (8/27).
Aetna's second quarter lobbying spending increased nearly 30 percent over the same quarter last year to $631,846, according to another The Associated Press/Forbes report (8/27).