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Hopelessly Devoted
25th-July-2009, 22:57
Good article.
<H1>Whistleblower tells of America's hidden nightmare for its sick poor</H1>
When an insurance firm boss saw a field hospital for the poor in Virginia, he knew he had to speak out. Here, he tells Paul Harris of his fears for Obama's bid to bring about radical change
Wendell Potter can remember exactly when he took the first steps on his journey to becoming a whistleblower and turning against one of the most powerful industries in America.
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It was July 2007 and Potter, a senior executive at giant US healthcare firm Cigna, was visiting relatives in the poverty-ridden mountain districts of northeast Tennessee. He saw an advert in a local paper for a touring free medical clinic at a fairground just across the state border in Wise County, Virginia.


Potter, who had worked at Cigna for 15 years, decided to check it out. What he saw appalled him. Hundreds of desperate people, most without any medical insurance, descended on the clinic from out of the hills. People queued in long lines to have the most basic medical procedures carried out free of charge. Some had driven more than 200 miles from Georgia. Many were treated in the open air. Potter took pictures of patients lying on trolleys on rain-soaked pavements.


For Potter it was a dreadful realisation that healthcare in America had failed millions of poor, sick people and that he, and the industry he worked for, did not care about the human cost of their relentless search for profits. "It was over-powering. It was just more than I could possibly have imagined could be happening in America," he told the Observer


Potter resigned shortly afterwards. Last month he testified in Congress, becoming one of the few industry executives to admit that what its critics say is true: healthcare insurance firms push up costs, buy politicians and refuse to pay out when many patients actually get sick. In chilling words he told a Senate committee: "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."


Potter's claims are at the centre of the biggest political crisis of Barack Obama's young presidency. Obama, faced with 47 million Americans without health insurance, has put reforming the system at the top of his agenda. If he succeeds, he will have pushed through one of the greatest changes to domestic policy of any president. If he fails, his presidency could be broken before it is even a year old. Last week, in a sign of how high the stakes are, he addressed the nation in a live TV news conference. It is the sort of event usually reserved for a moment of deep national crisis, such as a terrorist attack. But Obama wanted to talk about healthcare. "This is about every family, every business and every taxpayer who continues to shoulder the burden of a problem that Washington has failed to solve for decades," he told the nation.


Obama's plans are now mired and the opponents of reform are winning. The Republican attack machine has cranked into gear, labelling reform as "socialist" and warning ordinary Americans that government bureaucrats, not doctors, will choose their medicines. The bill's opponents say the huge cost can only be paid by massive tax increases on ordinary Americans and that others will have their current healthcare plans taken away. Many centrist Democratic congressmen, wary of their conservative voters, are wavering. The legislation has failed to meet Obama's August deadline and is now delayed until after the summer recess. Many fear that this loss of momentum could kill it altogether.


To Potter that is no surprise. He has seen all this before. In his long years with Cigna he rose to be the company's top PR executive. He had an eagle-eye view of the industry's tactics of scuppering political efforts to get it to reform. "This is a v

busbi
25th-July-2009, 23:08
Would recommend to anyone to watch SICKO. I know Micheal Moore is just a tad biased, but you just can't help be taken aback by some of the stuff in it.

Hopelessly Devoted
25th-July-2009, 23:09
Would recommend to anyone to watch SICKO. I know Micheal Moore is just a tad biased, but you just can't help be taken aback by some of the stuff in it.


Good film &amp; I am wary of Moore but he made a good one in this.

paul21733
25th-July-2009, 23:17
Its excellent quality if you have insurance, why arent we making a film about the Irish healthcare system which is awful even if you have insurance

Hopelessly Devoted
25th-July-2009, 23:21
Its excellent quality if you have insurance, why arent we making a film about the Irish healthcare system which is awful even if you have insurance





The point of the article &amp; of Sicko is that it's not 'excellent' if you have insurance as the insurance companies go out of their way to prevent costly procedures.

paul21733
25th-July-2009, 23:25
Its excellent quality if you have insurance, why arent we making a film about the Irish healthcare system which is awful even if you have insurance





The point of the article &amp; of Sicko is that it's not 'excellent' if you have insurance as the insurance companies go out of their way to prevent costly procedures.





My own family members experience has been nothing but flawless and noone I have spoken to has had problems with insurance companies avoiding expensive procedures.

Hopelessly Devoted
25th-July-2009, 23:28
Its excellent quality if you have insurance, why arent we making a film about the Irish healthcare system which is awful even if you have insurance





The point of the article &amp; of Sicko is that it's not 'excellent' if you have insurance as the insurance companies go out of their way to prevent costly procedures.





My own family members experience has been nothing but flawless and noone I have spoken to has had problems with insurance companies avoiding expensive procedures.





Glad to hear it. It is not the universal experience though.

paul21733
25th-July-2009, 23:34
Its excellent quality if you have insurance, why arent we making a film about the Irish healthcare system which is awful even if you have insurance





The point of the article &amp; of Sicko is that it's not 'excellent' if you have insurance as the insurance companies go out of their way to prevent costly procedures.





My own family members experience has been nothing but flawless and noone I have spoken to has had problems with insurance companies avoiding expensive procedures.





Glad to hear it. It is not the universal experience though.





Not argueing that it is. The system needs to be changed, less people will now be able to afford insurance. Ask yourself the question if you were sick where would you go an Irish hospital or an American one? If they can sortout a system of letting the poorer get the same quality of healthcareit would be an excellent system.

busbi
26th-July-2009, 10:13
Paul - at least in Ireland you would be able to go to a hospital, whatever the quality. And while its great to hear you're family haven't had problems, it is when you start to get serious illnesses that the problems seem to arise. Filling in a Health Insurance form correctly can actually be a matter of life of dead.

kermit
26th-July-2009, 11:02
Its excellent quality if you have insurance, why arent we making a film about the Irish healthcare system which is awful even if you have insurance





And how much is Health Insurance in the US?

Scenic
26th-July-2009, 13:56
My portion of my health insurance is $26 per month ($312 annually), my
employer pays $663 ($7963 annually), which totals to $8,275 per year.
That's a very basic healthplan with no dependents and fairly high
co-pays for me.

lahinch_lass
26th-July-2009, 15:13
Its excellent quality if you have insurance, why arent we making a film about the Irish healthcare system which is awful even if you have insurance





The point of the article &amp; of Sicko is that it's not 'excellent' if you have insurance as the insurance companies go out of their way to prevent costly procedures.





My own family members experience has been nothing but flawless and noone I have spoken to has had problems with insurance companies avoiding expensive procedures.
I have one story about the american system. My uncle and his family live in the USA. Currently they live in Kentucky. MY uncle's wife is a nurse, and my uncle works in the chemical industry. Obviously they have insurance coverage etc.
A few years back my parents met up with my uncle &amp; his wife for a sailing holiday in San diego. On the final day my uncle fell down the steps of the cabin in the boat and broke his collar bone. On checking with his insurance company there was only one facility in the area he was covered for. When they went to that facility the doctor was out on call. Unfortunately because of that they drove all the way back to Las vegas where they were catching their respective flights home. So in his case he went on the car journey and also the flight with an un-assessed &amp; untreated collar bone.
Luckily the travel didn't lead to further complications and he was able to get treated when they got home to Kentucky.

but it is pretty laughable when a well covered person is still only covered for a single facility in a city the size of San Diego. And that a facility that only has a single doctor on duty !

Viigand
26th-July-2009, 15:56
Can't really take anything Michael Moore or HD says seriously...smileys/wink.gif

Hopelessly Devoted
26th-July-2009, 16:05
Can't really take anything Michael Moore or HD says seriously...smileys/wink.gif


Thanks Viigand, I'd hate you to take me seriously. smileys/wink.gif

paul21733
26th-July-2009, 20:39
Can't really take anything Michael Moore or HD says seriously...smileys/wink.gif


Bit unfair, most of HDs posts are grand. Michael Moore-What the f**k does he know about health?

Cathal
26th-July-2009, 20:46
Can't really take anything Michael Moore or HD says seriously...smileys/wink.gif


Bit unfair, most of HDs posts are grand. Michael Moore-What the f**k does he know about health?

Not nearly as much as he knows about doctoring evidence, 'careful' editing, scripting and outright lying.

bruffian
26th-July-2009, 21:19
Only have 1 experience myself over here.


Broke mty handplaying rugby.I walked into a local hospital the next day.Didnt have coverage,was seen IMMEDIATELY,x-rayed,treated. Got a bill a few weeks later for 2-3 hundred dollars.


Was so used to waiting for ages,but then again,I've only ever had one experience.

Jenta
26th-July-2009, 21:23
Only have 1 experience myself over here.


Broke mty handplaying rugby.I walked into a local hospital the next day.Didnt have coverage,was seen IMMEDIATELY,x-rayed,treated. Got a bill a few weeks later for 2-3 hundred dollars.


Was so used to waiting for ages,but then again,I've only ever had one experience.

Imagine if that had been your leg, you'd be paying off the bill until you're 60.

Upfront_1979
27th-July-2009, 10:35
My Grandmother was in US visiting freinds and had some heart problems. She went to hospital and was treated with warfin and general care for 3 days. Came home one week later. About 1 month after that started to recieve bills, Bill came to fairly close to a 5 figure Sum! Grandmother was devestated and very upset as she had no idea costs would be so high for something covered as standard over here. eventually made a commitent to pay them 1 a week for the forseeable future after solicitors advice (difficult to prosecute as in seperate jurisdiction and has made commitment to pay)but she can no longer risk going to the USA.


Uncle lived over there and suffered a leg injury requiring several treatments. His basic level Health Insurance apparently did not cover the treatments but he did not find this out until after several course of treatment. He had to flee the country as he could not afford the medical bills.


It's probably the unfairest Healthcare system in the civilised world