Former CIGNA PR Executive Details Insurance Company Strategy Against Health Care Reform

Wendell Potter is the former Head of Communications for CIGNA Corporation – one of the largest health insurers in the US. Over on Common he now writes about how the health insurance industry has worked to sabotage health care reform for years.

Here are some of his remarks. I urge you to read the full article, entitled, “How Health Insurance Drives Debate” . He notes how the health insurance industry has been working behind the scenes to drive the debate and most people don’t see it. Their bottom line is not health care or the patients but profits. If patients are not profitable they get their policies dropped.

As Potter explains,

“… the industry funnels millions of its policyholders’ premiums to big public relations firms that provide talking points to conservative talk show hosts, business groups and politicians. I also described how the PR firms set up front groups, again using your premium dollars and mine, to scare people away from reform.

What I’m trying to do as I write and speak out against the insurance industry I was a part of for nearly two decades is to inform Americans that when they hear isolated stories of long waiting times to see doctors in Canada and allegations that care in other systems is rationed by “government bureaucrats,” someone associated with the insurance industry wrote the original script.

The industry has been engaging in these kinds of tactics for many years, going back to its successful behind-the-scenes campaign to kill the Clinton reform plan.

Potter is very explicit in warning Americans that the previous efforts to kill health care reform and today’s opposition are not spontaneous but are coming from the health care industry efforts to continue making profits off our current dysfunctional system that is profit based not care based.

Potter ends with this comment:

“The industry goes to great lengths to keep its involvement in these campaigns hidden from public view. I know from having served on numerous trade group committees and industry-funded front groups, however, that industry leaders are always full partners in developing strategies to derail any reform that might interfere with insurers’ ability to increase profits.

So the next time you hear someone warning against a “government takeover” of our health care system, or that the creation of a public health insurance option would send us down the “slippery slope toward socialism,” know that someone like I used to be wrote those terms, knowing it might turn many of the very people who would benefit most from meaningful reform into unwitting spokespeople for the industry.”

Such a sad commentary is unfortunately the case. The very people who would benefit from health care reform are arguing against it. If they have anything to be mad about it should be the lies and lack of coverage and shady tactics and outrageous costs that create so many problems for the very citizens the current private health care system is saying they can do a better job of helping than a public option would.

It’s obvious that the current health care system is class oriented in that it serves those with money best and does not believe in equality of care. Health care should be a right. Unfortunately in America it is a privilege driven by money. That is wrong.

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