The health insurance industry’s anti-consumer antics in the face of reform and healthy competition have become notoriously all too predictable. So predictable, in fact, that a highly respected former industry insider is urging Connecticut residents and lawmakers to beware of a yet-to-be released report on SustiNet the state’s health reform proposal with a public insurance option by the America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP).
In his article “Don’t Buy Insurance Industry’s Objective Analysis” posted February 23 on PR Watch, a project of the Center for Media and Democracy, Wendell Potter, a 20-year veteran of the health insurance industry who served on AHIP’s strategic communications committee, writes, “I know firsthand how the group uses what it purports to be objective research to scare people away from reforms insurers think might reduce their profits.”
Mr. Potter goes on to assure lawmakers here that “the study,” ostensibly being prepared to provide an objective analysis of the cost of SustiNet, will be neither objective nor a complete analysis. Instead, he says, “it will be the centerpiece of multipronged strategic effort to scare people into believing, erroneously, that SustiNet will cost jobs, lead to higher taxes and bring an abrupt halt to the market-based solutions.”
Based on Mr. Potter’s analysis, it shouldn¹t be surprising if SustiNet’s cost controls, savings and other economically beneficial features are downplayed or ignored.
Currently a senior analyst at the Center for Public Integrity, Mr. Potter’s informed advice to consumers also appeared this past weekend in the Patient Money section of The New York Times. A former public relations executive, he’s worked at firms such as Cigna, and has written a whistle-blower book about the industry’s unseemly practices. As he and other concerned Americans look toward health reform efforts in Connecticut as a national model, residents and lawmakers here would do well to heed his warnings.
Juan A. Figueroa, President, Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut 290 Pratt Street, Meriden, CT 06450