From THE HUFFINGTON POST:
A new video puts denied health insurance claims on United Health Care CEO Stephen Hemsley’s doorstep.
The video, made by Brave News Films’ Robert Greenwald, intercuts stories of people suffering because of denied claims with images Hemsley’s fancy homes, along with details about how much money Hemsley’s got ($744,232,068 in unexercised stock options, for example).
Holly Bailey says in the video that United Health Care refused to pay for medicine she couldn’t live without.
“I tried to explain to them that if I do not have this, I will die. And the only response she gave me was, ‘OK.'”
Joanna Joshua, whose child’s treatment was denied, asks, “Stephen Hemsley, how are you able to sleep at night?”
The piece aims to gin up the sort of pitchfork-style outrage against health insurance CEOs that so beset Wall Street executives after their industry was bailed out by the government.
“It’s definitely similar and in some ways worse, because these are dollars are literally being taken away from you that could help save lives in order to build bigger mansions,” said Greenwald in an interview with the Huffington Post. “We hope it will begin a part of the discussion that has not happened: Who is gaining from the current system, and why are they resisting?”
United Health Care said in a statement that the company supports health reform and making coverage available to all Americans.
From SICK FOR PROFIT:
UnitedHealthcare CEO Stephen Hemsley owns $744,232,068 in unexercised stock options. CIGNA’s Edward Hanway spends his holidays in a $13 million beach house in New Jersey. Meanwhile, regular Americans are routinely denied coverage for the care they need when they need it most.
Watch the video at either link, and make sure to check out the insurance CEOs’ stats here. Here are snippets:
Five-Year Compensation, as of April 30, 2008 (Forbes)
Five-Year Compensation Total (Forbes)
Ronald A. Williams
2008 Compensation (Forbes)
2008 Compensation (Forbes)
From The Washington Post:
If we fail to reform our health care system this year, a major reason will be that a majority of Americans are satisfied with their health coverage and believe that reform could hurt them. […] A recent New York Times poll found that 59 percent of Americans do not think that health-care reform will benefit them personally; 69 percent are concerned that reform could harm the quality of their own care and 68 percent are concerned that it could limit their access to treatment.
This is deeply misleading, for two reasons. First, what does it mean to say that you are satisfied with your health insurance? Consider homeowner’s insurance. Until you need it — your house burns down — you have no way of judging its quality. The same goes for health coverage; until you have a serious illness, the kind where your plan’s limits and exclusions may kick in, how do you know if your health coverage is any good?
For one thing, as the House Energy and Commerce Committee uncovered, some insurers go out of their way to revoke coverage for people with serious health problems by looking for mistakes on their original applications. For another, you could be underinsured, like 29 percent of all people with health insurance, according to Consumer Reports.
The second problem is that the health coverage that most satisfied Americans have — employer-based coverage — is less secure than they think. In America today, we have three main health insurance systems. At one end we have Medicare and the Veterans Health Administration, which (although many anti-reform protesters don’t realize it) are government-funded and government-run programs, and generally popular ones. At the other end we have the individual market, in which individuals buy insurance policies directly from health insurers. The individual market is completely broken; according to a recent Commonwealth Fund study, 73 percent of people who tried to buy individual coverage in the last three years did not end up buying a plan.
In the middle we have the employer-based system, which according to the U.S. Census Bureau covered 59 percent of the population in 2007. The employer-based system is good and bad. On the plus side, it solves the fundamental problem of the individual market.
Employers can spread the cost of health insurance across their workforces, so that all employees are treated equally, regardless of their medical history. Furthermore, the tax rules governing employer-provided health care require that employers offer plans that treat all employees equally. The result is that if your employer provides health coverage, you can probably get it.
However, the employer-based system has two major weaknesses. First, and most obviously, it means keeping your health insurance is dependent on keeping your job.
Second, employers are dropping their health plans; the percentage of people covered through an employer has dropped from 64 percent in 2000 to 59 percent in 2007, and that decline is likely to accelerate. Why? Because, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey, the average annual premium for family coverage has already increased from $5,791 in 1999 to $12,680 in 2008 — a 9 percent annual increase — and a study published in Health Affairs forecasts that national health spending will grow at an average annual rate of 6.7 percent until 2017. Arithmetically, with each year that passes, it becomes harder for companies to keep their health plans without reducing benefits, reducing wages or increasing employee contributions to health plans.
The bottom line is that your current health plan may not be as good as you think it is, and there is a good chance that it will not be around when you need it.