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Millions of Americans are about to lose their health insurance in a pandemic

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Below is an article written by the man whom I believe is one of the most powerful advocates for Medicare for All.  The former Vice President of Corporate Communications for CIGNA, Wendell Potter, spent over two decades apologizing for and defending the greed and unethical practices of big insurance.  Then one day a case came along that made Potter decide that he'd seen enough.  He ended up testifying before Congress and blew the whistle on the medical insurance industry.   [Link] 

 

If you are a MFA advocate and you see the name Wendell Potter on an article, I implore you to read what he has to say.   The guy understands the health insurance industry, including the unethical, self-serving games they sometimes play, like few others understand it.   

 

Now that we are in the midst of a once-in-a-century kind of pandemic, the healthcare crisis in this country WILL become infinitely more pronounced.  That's a guarantee.  Below is Wendell Potter's take on the matter.  I'd like to hear what you all think, too, as well as your solutions to this imminent crisis that was already in the making before COVID-19 reared its ugly head.

 

 

 

Americans are about to learn something horrifying: how irrational it is for health insurance to be linked to your employment status

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The tragic effects of our battle with the novel coronavirus are seemingly endless. But arguably the most mind-blowing is this: the very pandemic that threatens to infect and kill millions is simultaneously causing many to also lose their health coverage at their gravest time of need.

 

Here’s how: the virus has caused a public health crisis so severe that people have been forced to stay home, causing businesses to shutter and lay off workers. And with roughly half of Americans getting their health insurance from their employer, these layoffs mean not only losing their income but also their medical coverage. In other words, just as our need for medical care skyrockets in the face of a global pandemic, fewer will have health insurance or be able to afford it. According to one recent report, the cost of treatment for Covid-19 can run around $35,000. As the patient in the report exclaimed: “I was pretty sticker-shocked. I personally don’t know anybody who has that kind of money.”

 

So, how did we get to such a dire place? Many will sadly lose their jobs over the coming weeks – with one estimate projecting as many as 30%. And as they do, Americans are about to learn something horrifying: how irrational and irresponsible it is for so many to be dependent on employers for health insurance. Take it from me. I’m a former health insurance executive who once profited from this system. It’s time for it to stop.

 

America needs to finally get out of the business of linking health coverage to job status. Even in better times, this arrangement was a bad idea from a health perspective. Most Americans whose families depend on their employers for coverage are just a layoff away from being uninsured. And now, when many businesses are shutting down and considering layoffs, it’s a public health disaster. Across the country we’re seeing reports of layoffs in almost all industries. As we approach a global recession, some analysts suggest that a million or more US workers will lose their jobs in April alone. Consider what this means for health care in this country.

 

We’ve seen this before. During the last big recession, researchers at Cornell University found that 9.3 million Americans lost their health insurance between 2007 and 2009. Why? As people lost work, their employer-provided insurance went away. During this time, roughly six in 10 Americans who lost their jobs became uninsured. And this problem compounds itself. If the reason you lost your health insurance is that you no longer have steady employment, how are you now going to be able to afford monthly premiums for some other private health care plan? This problem becomes particularly acute when you consider that premiums for health plans sold on exchanges are projected to soar, as well, due to “unexpected Covid-19 costs”.

 

It’s worth noting that even in good times, the employer-based model fails to cover enough of us, with the number of Americans covered through an employer steadily dropping in general. Since 1999, the percentage of those with job-based coverage has declined by nine points. And it most certainly will drop like a rock in the coming weeks and months.

 

It’s now clear that this system cannot handle our current reality. With so many Americans sadly on the verge of unemployment, the number that will lose health coverage will be crushing. As we rebuild our country’s economic base and reimagine the roles various industries play in our new future, we must also begin a difficult conversation about health care. If we’re dependent on jobs in order to have it, a lot of us will be left out in the cold. And at a time in our nation’s history where more will need quality care than ever before, the human cost will simply be too much to bear.

 

  • Wendell Potter, a former vice-president for corporate communications at Cigna, is president of Business for Medicare for All

 

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/mar/27/coronavirus-pandemic-americans-health-insurance

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As the COVID19 pandemic is demonstrating, health coverage linked to employment is now a double-edged-sword.  One edge slices at continuing good healtha and even survival, while the other cuts off their ability to pay for the care they need.  It's a "Catch 22".  As the pandemic causes companies to fail financially, their former employees are stranded without the healthcare required during a pandemic.

 

In such conditions, the Health Insurance Industry no longer plays the role in helping ordinary people from which they had formerly profited.  Even in normal times, for-profit health insurance is nothing more than a middleman, skimming off a profit from one of the most essential services there is: ---  Healthcare. 

 

We need to join the rest of the developed world and provide Single Payer Healthcare to the American People.

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1 hour ago, bludog said:

As the COVID19 pandemic is demonstrating, health coverage linked to employment is now a double-edged-sword.  One edge slices at continuing good healtha and even survival, while the other cuts off their ability to pay for the care they need.  It's a "Catch 22".  As the pandemic causes companies to fail financially, their former employees are stranded without the healthcare required during a pandemic.

Changes in the insurance industry have become much crueler.  Now they terminate a laid off employee's health insurance coverage on the same day they're shown the door.  In the past, most insurers would end coverage on the last day of the month an employee leaves the job.  So there are going to be thousands upon thousands of people who will contract the virus and, sadly, will be handed massive medical bills as well. 

 

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In such conditions, the Health Insurance Industry no longer plays the role in helping ordinary people from which they had formerly profited.  Even in normal times, for-profit health insurance is nothing more than a middleman, skimming off a profit from one of the most essential services there is: ---  Healthcare. 

Insurance companies are, indeed, unnecessary middlemen in our healthcare.  They provide nothing that the CMS (Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services) couldn't provide with ease at an infinitely lower cost.   Interesting you used that term, as it is also a term Wendell Potter uses regularly

 

 

"Even big corporations are beginning to realize that the private insurance system is an unnecessary middleman. When I was toward the end of my career at Cigna, before I’d made my decision to leave, I was in a meeting with 50 or so of us and the CEO, and somebody asked him, what kept him up at night. And he said this disintermediation, which is a real fancy word that means getting rid of the middleman."
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https://vtdigger.org/2019/06/23/qa-ex-health-insurance-exec-wendell-potter-now-fights-for-single-payer/ 

 

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We need to join the rest of the developed world and provide Single Payer Healthcare to the American People.

Agreed.  It's time.  Hell, it's way past time.

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6 hours ago, RollingRock said:

Now that we are in the midst of a once-in-a-century kind of pandemic, the healthcare crisis in this country WILL become infinitely more pronounced.  That's a guarantee.  Below is Wendell Potter's take on the matter.  I'd like to hear what you all think, too, as well as your solutions to this imminent crisis that was already in the making before COVID-19 reared its ugly head.


IMO, the pandemic has revealed a number of systemic weaknesses that need to be addressed. 

- Every person in America needs medical coverage, regardless of employment or wealth. It’s not just a moral imperative, it’s a public health imperative. It needs to happen now!

- “Essential” workers are underpaid. Drivers, store clerks, farmers, pharmacy workers, warehouse workers and utility workers are also heroes. 
- Globalization may reduce cost but it is too risky to rely on global supply chains for food, medicines, medical equipment, disinfectant etc. We need to ensure a domestic supply of certain goods, even if it means paying much more. 
- If the economy collapses after a reasonable two month response to a global pandemic then something is wrong with the economic system. 

 

I’ve always considered myself center-left but the pandemic seems to be pushing me slightly further to the left on certain issues. 

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