Health Insurance Executive Speaks Out

Doctor with money. Image courtesy of CorbisTestimony given before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation:

Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to be here this afternoon.

My name is Wendell Potter and for 20 years, I worked as a senior executive at health insurance companies, and I saw how they confuse their customers and dump the sick — all so they can satisfy their Wall Street investors.

… The average family doesn’t understand how Wall Street’s dictates determine whether they will be offered coverage, whether they can keep it, and how much they’ll be charged for it. But, in fact, Wall Street plays a powerful role. The top priority of for-profit companies is to drive up the value of their stock.

… Notices that insurers are required to send to policyholders — those explanation-of-benefit documents that are supposed to explain how the insurance company calculated its payments to providers and how much is left for the policyholder to pay — are notoriously incomprehensible. Insurers know that policyholders are so baffled by those notices they usually just ignore them or throw them away. And that’s exactly the point. If they were more understandable, more consumers might realize that they are being ripped off.

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