Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Gangster Model of Healthcare

Health insurers have forced consumers to pay billions of dollars in medical bills that the insurers themselves should have paid, according to a report released yesterday by the staff of the Senate Commerce Committee.

The report was part of a multi-pronged assault on the credibility of private insurers by Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.). It came at a time when Rockefeller, President Obama and others are seeking to offer a public alternative to private health plans as part of broad health-care reform legislation. Health insurers are doing everything they can to block the public option.

At a committee hearing yesterday, three health-care specialists testified that insurers go to great lengths to avoid responsibility for sick people, use deliberately incomprehensible documents to mislead consumers about their benefits, and sell "junk" policies that do not cover needed care. Rockefeller said he was exploring "why consumers get such a raw deal from their insurance companies."

The star witness at the hearing was a former public relations executive for major health insurers whose testimony boiled down to this: Don't trust the insurers.

"The industry and its backers are using fear tactics, as they did in 1994, to tar a transparent and accountable -- publicly accountable -- health-care option," said Wendell Potter, who until early last year was vice president for corporate communications at the big insurer Cigna.

This the direction the supporters of health care privatization in Canada want to take us. An industry that behaves like an organized crime empire with bought and paid for lobbyists and politicians spouting fear mongering rhetoric about 'socialism' in order to protect local monopoly 'families'.

This is what's at the end of the road for every flirtation with private delivery here in Canada. Two-tier, user fees, P2P scams, 'patient based funding' and all the other attempts to circumvent the public will to protect public heathcare and bring in privatization through the back door.

They all lead to a vampiric collection of greedy monster insurance and private clinic empires fighting to protect the misery, corruption and death toll that makes them wealthy.

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