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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

 
"This Is Precisely Why We Need A Public Option"

by digby

This tells you everything you need to know about our insurance company "partners" in health care reform:



An investigation by the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations showed that health insurers WellPoint Inc., UnitedHealth Group and Assurant Inc. canceled the coverage of more than 20,000 people, allowing the companies to avoid paying more than $300 million in medical claims over a five-year period.

It also found that policyholders with breast cancer, lymphoma and more than 1,000 other conditions were targeted for rescission and that employees were praised in performance reviews for terminating the policies of customers with expensive illnesses.

"No one can defend, and I certainly cannot defend, the practice of canceling coverage after the fact," said Rep. Michael C. Burgess (R-Tex.), a member of the committee. "There is no acceptable minimum to denying coverage after the fact."

The executives -- Richard A. Collins, chief executive of UnitedHealth's Golden Rule Insurance Co.; Don Hamm, chief executive of Assurant Health and Brian Sassi, president of consumer business for WellPoint Inc., parent of Blue Cross of California -- were courteous and matter-of-fact in their testimony.

But they would not commit to limiting rescissions to only policyholders who intentionally lie or commit fraud to obtain coverage, a refusal that met with dismay from legislators on both sides of the political aisle.

Experts said it could undermine the industry's efforts to influence healthcare-overhaul plans working their way toward the White House.

"Talk about tone deaf," said Robert Laszewski, a former health insurance executive who now counsels companies as a consultant.

[...]

Sassi said rescissions are necessary to prevent people who lie about preexisting conditions from obtaining coverage and driving up costs for others.

"I want to emphasize that rescission is about stopping fraud and material misrepresentations that contribute to spiraling healthcare costs," Sassi told the committee.

But rescission victims testified that their policies were canceled for inadvertent omissions or honest mistakes about medical history on their applications. Rescission, they said, was about improving corporate profits rather than rooting out fraud.

[...]

A Texas nurse said she lost her coverage, after she was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer, for failing to disclose a visit to a dermatologist for acne.

The sister of an Illinois man who died of lymphoma said his policy was rescinded for the failure to report a possible aneurysm and gallstones that his physician noted in his chart but did not discuss with him.

The committee's investigation found that WellPoint's Blue Cross targeted individuals with more than 1,400 conditions, including breast cancer, lymphoma, pregnancy and high blood pressure. And the committee obtained documents that showed Blue Cross supervisors praised employees in performance reviews for rescinding policies.

One employee, for instance, received a perfect 5 for "exceptional performance" on an evaluation that noted the employee's role in dropping thousands of policyholders and avoiding nearly $10 million worth of medical care.

[...]

Late in the hearing, Stupak, the committee chairman, put the executives on the spot. Stupak asked each of them whether he would at least commit his company to immediately stop rescissions except where they could show "intentional fraud."

The answer from all three executives:

"No."

Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) said that a public insurance plan should be a part of any overhaul because it would force private companies to treat consumers fairly or risk losing them.

"This is precisely why we need a public option," Dingell said.


Update:This is staggering:


Those of you who are struggling to pay for your generic medicines or wondering why the doctor is charging you a $5.00 co-pay, give some thought to these facts about how our health care dollars are allocated. At the end of this post, there is a list of 23 health companies I found on Forbes.com, what the CEO was paid in 2005, and the average paid to the CEO in the past five years.

Imagine adding vice presidents, Board of Directors, stock holders and the other 200-300 other companies all cashing in on your health to that total at the bottom...



* United Health Group
CEO: William W McGuire
2005: 124.8 mil
5-year: 342 mil

* Forest Labs
CEO: Howard Solomon
2005: 92.1 mil
5-year: 295 mil

* Caremark Rx
CEO: Edwin M Crawford
2005: 77.9 mil
5-year: 93.6 mil

* Abbott Lab
CEO: Miles White
2005: 26.2 mil
5-year: 25.8 mil

* Aetna
CEO: John Rowe
2005: 22.1 mil
5-year:57.8 mil

* Amgen
CEO: Kevin Sharer
2005:5.7 mil
5-year:59.5 mil

* Bectin-Dickinson
CEO: Edwin Ludwig
2005: 10 mil
5-year:18 mil

* Boston Scientific
CEO:
2005:38.1 mil
5-year:45 mil

* Cardinal Health
CEO: James Tobin
2005:1.1 mil
5-year:33.5 mil

* Cigna
CEO: H. Edward Hanway
2005:13.3 mil
5-year:62.8 mil

* Genzyme
CEO: Henri Termeer
2005: 19 mil
5-year:60.7 mil

* Humana
CEO: Michael McAllister
2005:2.3 mil
5-year:12.9 mil

* Johnson & Johnson
CEO: William Weldon
2005:6.1 mil
5-year:19.7 mil

* Laboratory Corp America
CEO: Thomas MacMahon
2005:7.9 mil
5-year:41.8 mil

* Eli Lilly
CEO: Sidney Taurel
2005:7.2 mil
5-year:37.9 mil

* McKesson
CEO: John Hammergen
2005: 13.4 mil
5-year:31.2 mil

* Medtronic
CEO: Arthur Collins
2005: 4.7 mil
5-year:39 mil

* Merck Raymond Gilmartin
CEO:
2005: 37.8 mil
5-year:49.6 mil

* PacifiCare Health
CEO: Howard Phanstiel
2005: 3.4 mil
5-year: 8.5 mil

* Pfizer
CEO: Henry McKinnell
2005: 14 mil
5-year: 74 mil

* Well Choice
CEO: Michael Stocker
2005: 3.2 mil
5-year: 10.7 mil

* WellPoint
CEO: Larry Glasscock
2005: 23 mil
5-year: 46.8 mil

* Wyeth
CEO: Robert Essner
2005:6.5 mil
5-year: 28.9 mil


TOTAL 2005: 559.8 mil

TOTAL 5-Year: 14.9 billion


h/t to Kewalo



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