I'll keep this post short, because the good stuff -- and by good I mean absolutely bloody infuriating -- is over at Huffington Post.
Wendell Potter hit some home runs this week discussing how the big-profit health insurance system is designed to do one thing: make greedy men rich.
In his April 25th column, "Health Insurance Execs Making More Than Ever Before," we learn how health insurance executives are becoming the richest men (and let's not forget WellPoint's breast cancer patient-hating Angela Braly, women) in America:
Speaking of CEOs, Stephen Hemsley in particular made out like a bandit Thursday. Already at the very pinnacle of Forbes 2011 "Executive Pay List" (you read that right, his total compensation of $101.96 million last year made him the highest paid corporate executive in the United States of America), Hemsley saw his net worth skyrocket last week.
You also don't want to miss in that column how health insurance executives tried to lie and say "stormy weather" was what was responsible for record profits -- meaning people couldn't get to the doctor because of bad snow -- instead of denied claims and junk, "consumer-directed" insurance policies that make patients too poor to actually see a doctor, because they have to pay for everything out of pocket until they hit a $10,000 deductible.
Veteran analyst Christine Arnold of Cowen and Company apparently wasn't buying it, so she pressed for more "clarity" during the call.
"Excluding places where you saw winter storms," she asked, "was utilization (of health services) up?"
Earlier in the call, the executives seemed to be suggesting that the number of inpatient hospital "bed days" was down considerably because of bad weather.
"So, excluding storms," she probed, "were bed days up?"
UnitedHealth's chief financial officer, Dan Schumacher, finally had to 'fess up.
"Bed days excluding storms were flat to slightly down depending on the geography," he replied.
No summary does this column justice -- trust me, it's worth digesting every word twice.
Later in the week, on April 28th, Wendell Potter shared emails he's received from Americans getting screwed by our immoral health care system in "Health Execs Getting Richer As Some Americans Beg for Help to Pay for Care."
Molly wrote that Scott had been transferred to COBRA on Nov. 7, 2010, after losing his job. As that coverage was about to expire, the Pooles applied for an extension. A case manager for their insurer said it would be a waste of time to apply for the extension because Scott was rapidly approaching the lifetime coverage limit. After weeks of battle, the Pooles finally got the extension, but only for a short while.
"We only have coverage through May 7," Molly, wrote, "so that's why we've created a website to try to raise funds. We need to come up with approximately $400,000 a year to cover nursing and other medical costs. God forbid a hospital stay. What savings we have left are what's running the house. We start tapping them, we lose the house."
I've got a bridge between Manhattan and Brooklyn to sell you if you can convince me that these bastards are not the scummiest people in the country -- they don't give a shit that they are playing business games with the lives of individuals. It's disgraceful.
"There's nothing more thrilling than nailing an insurance company." Indeed.