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(I am a blogger fellow with Brave New Films on their Sick For Profit campaign.  Visit us on Facebook.)

Today Brave New Films released their second installment in the Sick For Profit series, taking a look at the corrupt practices of CIGNA, denying care to their customers while their lead executives rake in millions and lead lavish lifestyles.

Meet Jo Joshua Godfrey.  She had cancer without knowing for over a year.

"I would go to CIGNA and they would tell me I had bronchitis and give me medicine and send me home. No matter what medicine they gave me I wouldn't get better.  Then the CIGNA Director called me up and she told me that there was nothing wrong with me at all.  I called the doctor, and I came with my film and my CAT scan and he just put it in, it took exactly thirty seconds. He told me, 'You have cancer,' and he said the reason CIGNA did not want to give you your records is they've known right way back for years that you have cancer and they're not going to treat you."

CIGNA took in $19.1 billion dollars in revenue last year, with a $292 million dollar income.  That doesn't include the salaries given to people like CEO Ed Hanway.  He made a cool $12 million last year, and over the past five years he took in $120 million.  Hanway has $28 million in unexcercised stock options.  The company corporate jets, also not seen in profit statements, cost $68 million.  This money is gained, as former communications director Wendell Potter says in this video, through denying claims and dumping the sick, enhancing the value of the company for Wall Street investors.  The effect on people's lives, meanwhile, is tragic.  Nataline Sarkysian, featured in the Americans United For Change advertisement, lost her life after CIGNA repeated denied her a liver transplant, despite the family having full coverage.

Meet Stephen Coddington, the wife of Marian, a stroke victim:

The case manager at the nursing home called me in and was really upset, and she said, "CIGNA is wanting to discontinue therapy with her.  The doctors called and appeals were denied."  It has been a day-in and day-out fight.  Every talk that I've had with them, it's been, how can we wiggle off this hook.

This is the human cost for an insurance company's existence, for the record profits and supreme lifestyle of their executives.  Welcome to the American health insurance industry. Instead of helping policyholders attain the health security they need for their families, big insurance companies get rich by denying coverage to patients. Now they're sending lobbyists to Washington, DC to twist the arms of lawmakers to oppose reform of the status quo. Why? Because the status quo pays.

CIGNA is not a special case in the insurance industry.  It's perfectly normal and expected for a corporation to maximize profits.  The difference with insurance is that the profit comes at the expense of your health care, and frankly, all the regulations in the world won't substantively change that.  The best way to fight back is through exposure, a juxtaposition of the human luxury paid for by human misery.  

So help us shine this spotlight.  CIGNA's advertising tagline is 'A Business of Caring.'  We think they ought to come up with something more appropriate for their actual practices.  If you come up with one, post it on our Facebook page.  Here are some examples.  We'll send the best over to CIGNA.  In addition, Jo Joshua Godfrey will join SEIU Healthcare 775NW outside the CIGNA corporate offices in Seattle, Washington today as they demand quality and affordable health care for every American as a fundamental right and not a privilege.  If you're near 600 4th Ave in Seattle around 12:30 PT today, head down and show your support.

And send this video to your friends.  Everyone needs to know what's at stake in health care reform.  This kind of denial of coverage can happen to anyone under the current system.

Originally posted to dday on Mon Sep 14, 2009 at 10:44 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Unconscionable! Sharing this at a Blog. nt (0+ / 0-)
  •  My gawd, denying coverage is bad enough (0+ / 0-)

    but to deliberately lie to a patient, telling them nothing's wrong with them when the insurance company rep knows they have cancer?  WTF?  No words describe the utter immorality and crassness of such a horrible person.

    My Karma just ran over your Dogma

    by FoundingFatherDAR on Mon Sep 14, 2009 at 11:17:26 AM PDT

  •  These guys are starting to make Enron crooks (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    look good.

    My Karma just ran over your Dogma

    by FoundingFatherDAR on Mon Sep 14, 2009 at 11:18:58 AM PDT

  •  Shameful and disgusting (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    oldjohnbrown, hopalong, DanK Is Back

    "...I traveled....corporate jets...and was given gold plated china..."

    I was an executive at a large not-for-profit HMO and traveled many times with the CEO and Board members. I recall clearly once - it only took once - being castigated for the poor example I showed by using the valet parking at the airport instead of parking in the faraway lot and taking the bus in as the others did. I was late.

    We all traveled coach, we modeled our mission, that the members came first, while competing with these blood-sucking behemoths for-profits.  

    Since my COBRA ran out after an early retirement I know the enormous premiums ($1511/2 adults and growing) and what it's like to pay copays that climb higher and higher as we try to calm those premium jumps. Incentives exist in integrative medical practices to build health, cradle to grave. And doctors are in charge of making clinical decisions without authorizations by clerk and without tallying a spread sheet.

    All big institutions have their problems but the non-for-profits that already cut costs to the bone already know the savings of aggressive preventive and wellness medicine. Everyone I worked with from top to bottom also knew the value of single payer and many casually spoke out in its favor. Ten years ago, our senior level bonuses were at risk if member rates had to go up! Yes, indeed, we would lose money if the annual rate making predicted an increase and worked like hell to avoid it. And this institution now has rates I can barely tolerate much longer.  

    This video makes me sick. Once we get whatever consumer protections we can out of President Obama's initiative, we need to start a legislative and legal attack on the whole notion of profit at human loss. This is wrong on so many levels.  

    HR 676 - Health care reform we can believe in - national single-payer NOW.

    by kck on Mon Sep 14, 2009 at 11:19:15 AM PDT

  •  Disgrace (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Utter disgrace.  It seems criminal to me?  Doesn't it?

  •  The asbestos companies (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kck, terabytes

    did this in the 1930s. Their company doctors knew their product was causing disease and did not tell the workers. Many of them died.

    The workers finally started winning lawsuits in the 1960s and Johns Manville, the biggest culprit, filed for bankruptcy.

    This is the reason that we CANNOT have a cap on tort damages and we must help these people sue for medical malpractice. Perhaps even under criminal statutes. Was the doctor the one who didn't tell him? Throw the fucker in jail.

    See how often they do it again.

    Inconceivable! You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    by hopeful on Mon Sep 14, 2009 at 12:12:31 PM PDT

  •  I don't understand. (0+ / 0-)

    It sounds like Jo Godrey was getting treatment directly from her insurance carrier, CIGNA? How does that work?

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