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Playing Monopoly With America’s Health

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Posted on Oct 21, 2009

By Joe Conason

Popular disgust over the fat premiums that financial executives bestow upon themselves is burgeoning, and rightly so. Those Wall Street piggy banks are filling up with billions upon billions of government-subsidized dollars.

But anyone infuriated by the grossly inflated compensation of the masters of finance should check out the incredible earnings of the top executives in the health insurance business. They’re among the most highly paid suits in the country—not owing to any skill in providing health care, which they don’t do, but because they have succeeded in denying care, quashing competition, driving up costs and winning federal subsidies for their companies.

Last year, WellPoint, the country’s largest health insurer, paid chief executive Angela Braly just under $10 million in salary, options and bonuses, along with the use of a private jet for herself and her family. That included a raise of about $750,000 over her 2007 salary.

UnitedHealth Group, the second largest, paid CEO Stephen J. Hemsley only $3.2 million last year, but in 2007 he took home $13.2 million. His biggest bonanza got away when he was forced by the Securities and Exchange Commission to surrender $190 million in falsely backdated stock options, but that was nothing compared with the nearly $1 billion in options that his predecessor was required to disgorge. The SEC declined to prosecute anyone for those frauds.

Meanwhile, the CEO of Aetna, Ronald Williams, earned $23 million in 2008, and the CEO of CIGNA, Edward Hanway, brought home a total of $120 million over the past five years, plus nearly $29 million in stock options.

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Why are these insurance executives paid such obscene amounts? They might explain that they have improved the processing of claims and managing of risk—happy euphemisms for the notorious corporate practices of denying care wherever possible—or they might insist that their huge salaries reflect their challenging roles in a highly competitive marketplace.

But these companies actually exercise near monopolistic control of local insurance markets, which allows them to drive up costs and reduce access. That is the assessment of the American Medical Association, which has sponsored a series of large-scale studies of insurance markets across the country to determine whether excessive market power affects doctors and hospitals. The very notion of a competitive market and consumer choice is a sick joke in most American cities and towns, where a single health insurer predominates.

Those AMA findings amplified earlier studies dating back to 1995, which even then showed a clear trend toward concentration that has only grown worse. Over the past five years, the largest insurers have followed an imperial strategy of growth through merger and acquisition.

The buying binge has led to bloat, with WellPoint and UnitedHealth Group now covering more than 67 million individuals, or 36 percent of the total American insurance market. That is more than double the market share controlled by the two largest insurers in 2000, Aetna and United.

If the insurance executives get their way, this damaging consolidation will continue unchecked. When Braly isn’t complaining about potential competition from a public option provided by government, she tells shareholders that acquisition of smaller firms will continue to serve as “one of the key drivers of WellPoint’s future growth.”

The other significant “driver” of profitable growth for the insurance monopolies is the federally subsidized Medicare Advantage program, which overpays them by billions of dollars annually to compete with the traditional, government-run Medicare system. Originally billed as a way to reduce the cost of Medicare, that program has accomplished little except to improve the bottom line for the private insurers—and underwrite the excessive compensation of the Bralys and Hemsleys of the industry.

They blatantly curtail competition, lobby for federal subsidies, boost premiums, ration care and cut access, while insisting that a public option would cause all those terrible consequences. Obviously, they believe that the rest of us are chumps. And they may well be right.

Joe Conason writes for The New York Observer.

© 2009 Creators.com


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By Juliaestelleo, June 18, 2010 at 11:06 am Link to this comment

@calitatum
Yeah right, it’s just a silliness thoughts isn’t?
I think it depend on the people who think it’s silliness.
Voeding
Zwangerschapstest

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By Garden Guides, May 29, 2010 at 7:16 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’m seriously worried about this health care stuff. I
have no idea how I will pay for the mandatory care.
It makes me so angry! It will be just another bill
that I will struggle with… I wish that we could
have tougher laws on private student loans. How are
they allowed to be variable interest? They are a
signature loan but do not have any form of consumer
protections, much like other loans. They aren’t even
gov. loans! It’s sad! Write about that… Only like
40 percent of the billions of dollars of student loan
debt is being repaid. The rest is in default or
deferment.

how to become an ultrasound technician,how to earn extra money

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By YakuYaku, April 27, 2010 at 6:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As a French guy, I don’t really understand all the problems raised by recent changes in health care, but i sincerely think the USA are heading in the right direction.

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By p90x, March 20, 2010 at 2:12 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

you are a pedant apparently, the person in question a racist warmongering dolt…‘nuff said.

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By Daniel7rusu, February 1, 2010 at 3:41 am Link to this comment

Thats really what healthcare is to these big insurance company ceos - a game like monopoly. This is corporate greed at its finest.
Adult Family Home

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By JDmysticDJ, October 27, 2009 at 7:01 pm Link to this comment

3% or 4% profit margin for insurance companies? Many of us thought that operating expenses were 25% to 35% for insurance companies, while operating expenses were around 4% for Medicare. Profit margin? Hum? What exactly does that mean. Are the payments for Financial Officers(C.E.O.s’,C.F.O.s’, Executives, employees, stock holders, lobbyists, etc.,) and political contributions, part of operating expenses, or are they deducted from the profit margin. I’ll take a wild guess, and say that the above listed expenses are part of operating expenses. Apparently, people who purchase health insurance are paying huge amounts of money to their corporate masters, and their corporate masters use a large portion of that money to advance their own financial interests, against the interests of those who pay for that health insurance.
Common sense dictates that those who prosper from the suffering of others, are not exemplary human beings. In fact, let’s be honest, they are blood suckers and leaches - vampire like creatures who must be eliminated. A simple Single Payer System would accomplish that task nicely, and would be much easier than driving stakes through their evil, O’cursed hearts.

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By Baronscarpia, October 26, 2009 at 11:55 am Link to this comment

Peetawonkus

Indeed.  God loves you, just as calitatum tells us.  It’s just that He loves “health insurance companies” and their CEO’s just a little more than you. 

So just get in line and quit carping, will you?

By the way…calitatum…care to share the name of this amazing “health insurance company” your friends use which has never denied any coverage…EVER…to them?  Gee whiz, the rest of us would sure like a big dollop of that kind of conservative/corporate compassion.

Do they charge premiums, or do they just give away their coverage?  Or is (Christian) prayer accepted in lieu of payment? 

Or maybe you all get your coverage direct from God? 

Has He got an 800 number we can call to apply for coverage?  I’m assuming a screening physical will not be required by His Omniscience.

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By kfreed, October 26, 2009 at 6:52 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Montanawoodchuck says, “Stop your whining… This is the greatest country in the world…”

Not anymore, or have you been asleep under a rock for the past eight years? We are no longer, by any stretch of the imagination, NUMBER ONE at virtually anything productive anymore, son. Therein lies the problem and the incessant reenactment of some weird version of the “The Emperor’s New Clothes” does nothing for us in the way of fixing what’s broken.

A true patriot wouldn’t go sticking his fingers in his ears while his country turned Third World overnight.

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By Peetawonkus, October 25, 2009 at 8:26 pm Link to this comment

You pathetic right wing hypocrite. You come on this blog with belligerent junk like “Democrats kill a baby every 22 seconds. They don’t need health care. They are dead.” You came here looking for a fight and you got one. Now that you’ve gotten your feathers ruffled and your BS exposed you try to take refuge behind “love” and “forgiveness”. You’re not a Christian. You haven’t a clue what Christ’s message was. You’re just another ignorant Republican hiding behind the Bible and the flag. Don’t start fights you can’t finish.

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By calitatum, October 25, 2009 at 6:15 pm Link to this comment

Peetawonkus
It seems you have crowned yourself the blog master on anyone who disagrees with you. I have read your blogs on several sites. You need love and forgiveness. It will heal these wounds you so clearly bleed out on everyone else. God loves you no matter how hard you try to be unlovable.

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By Peetawonkus, October 25, 2009 at 10:09 am Link to this comment

calitatum

“Hello people, making a profit is a good thing. I love our current health care system. I am voting Republican until the day I die. Democrats kill a baby every 22 seconds. They don’t need health care. They are dead.”

Oh, yeah, peace and love to you, too.

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By calitatum, October 25, 2009 at 9:54 am Link to this comment

Oh, that’s just silliness. Peace and love to you.

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By Baronscarpia, October 25, 2009 at 9:36 am Link to this comment

calitatum:

Just might notice that I only quoted you.  For someone who abhors “name calling and cliches” you shift gears into that mode all too easily.  You smear millions of faceless and nameless people as
“racists” and “murderers” based only on their party affiliation.  And yet from other posters to this blog you want calm, fact-based dialogue?

Your blinding hatred is all too apparent, and very sad indeed.  It numbs your brain and fills your supposedly Christian mouth with meaningless, unpersuasive vitriol. 

As a Christian, you are an abject failure.

That, too, is a “fact.”

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By Peetawonkus, October 25, 2009 at 9:14 am Link to this comment

calitatum

Topping shit with whip cream doesn’t make it a sundae. The world had eight years to see what you Republicans were made of. A war in Iraq we were lied into and didn’t need to fight, that cost over a 100,000 Iraqi lives and 5000 American ones. A war that left us trillions in debt and a mess in the Middle East. A Republican government that trampled on civil liberties and created a culture of bribery and corruption. Whose smugly Christian politicians lectured us on “Family Values” even as they cheated on their wives and gave us one sex scandal after another. Whose economic and political theories have bankrupted America and sent its jobs to China. Whose Republican controlled Wall Street nearly destroyed the economy of the planet and had to be bailed out with tax payer money—and you still fight regulation of these white collar thieves. At every fork of the road, you Republicans defend corporations over the common man. Who do you think started this country? Conservatives? Conservatives were the ones wearing the red coats. You Republicans despise free speech and hoard guns. You yack about “Culture of Life” but encourage hillbilly terrorists to bomb clinics and shoot doctors, and then when it happens you pretend you had nothing to do with it. Like the majority of Americans, the ones who voted for Obama, we’re sick and tired of your hypocrisy, your lies, your flat earth ignorance, your racism. Here’s the Republican legacy: a privatized, broken Health Care system that is the worst of any industrialized nation on earth…and you offer faith based charities as a solution. How about this as a solution: shut your filthy Republican mouth, take your Old Testament Christianity, crawl back under your Confederate rock and wait for the Rapture.

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By ardee, October 25, 2009 at 8:48 am Link to this comment

calitatum, October 25 at 9:55 am #

It is regrettable that your belief system forces you to such exaggeration of policy and programs.

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By calitatum, October 25, 2009 at 8:06 am Link to this comment

Peetawonkus
I work full time for FREE at an inner city school for the poorest of the poor children being raised by single parents, mainly women. It is a faith based group totally run on donations. The children go free, get free clothes, free medical, free food, free education, free tutoring and mentoring. So, us Republicans love those kids and we give our lives for them. I have been to Africa helping children with HIV/aids, Brazil rescuing child prostitutes and providing shelter, food, clothes etc. for them. My son has given his life for humanitarian aid faith based works. We are people who love people and give all we have to help them. So, wrong again. The stats are fully correct gathered by the abortions clinics themselves. And unfortunately some extreme people have done horrible things, it is sad, but true. This is not mainstream, they are radical mentally ill people. Period. Any thinking person knows that.

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By Peetawonkus, October 25, 2009 at 7:22 am Link to this comment

calitatum

Those aren’t facts. Those are just some numbers you pulled off a megachurch pulpit in whatever Krazy Konfederate Kristian Kult you get your hate programming from. The discussion here is, or was, about Health Care. But like a typical Republican with social ADD you can’t talk about anything without launching off into a screed about abortion. Something that is, I might remind you, a legal right. If you want to change it, change it at the ballot box. I defy you to try. Instead, your people bomb clinics and resort to murder and intimidation of physicians in order to achieve your political goals: the classic definition of terrorism. Terrorists always have “holy causes” to justify what they do.

As far as your hand wringing over the fate of the poor unborn, you right-wingers love them babies in the womb. You just don’t give a damn about them once they’re born. Hence the Health Care nightmare you live in denial about. The one that affects nearly 50 million Americans, the majority of whom are children. Suck on that FACT.

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By calitatum, October 25, 2009 at 6:55 am Link to this comment

Baronscarpia

pro-abortion is on the Democrat platform. You know it and I know it. Fact.
1. Pursue embryonic stem cell research.
2. Right to kill your baby even if mother cannot pay.
3. Choice to kill your baby for anyone during any term of gestation.
A baby is aborted in this country every 22 seconds.
FROM 1973 THERE HAVE BEEN 50 MILLION BABIES. THE COMBINED POPULATION OF: ATLANTA, BOSTON, CHICAGO, DALLAS DETROIT, SEATTLE MINNEAPOLIS, SAN FRANCISCO, DENVER, NEW ORLEANS, MIAMI, ST. LOUIS, HUSTON, DC, PHOENIX.

These are all FACTS. The Republican platform does not believe killing 50,000 babies is okay. That is the fundamental reason I can NEVER vote for a Democrat. Most abortions are from minority women. Who is the racists now? Democrats think it is okay for minority women to kill their babies and one dies every 22 seconds.

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By Baronscarpia, October 25, 2009 at 5:56 am Link to this comment

From calitatum:

“Suffering the words of fools”

“It would be interesting if even once someone from truthdig would have a real discussion without nonsensical name calling and cliches. “

“Democrats kill a baby every 22 seconds.”

—————————

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By calitatum, October 24, 2009 at 8:46 pm Link to this comment

Oh, suffering the words of fools. You don’t know what I know or what I’ve studied or to whom I listen. It would be interesting if even once someone from truthdig would have a real discussion without nonsensical name calling and cliches. I have yet to find this person and only get responses from rambling presumptuous cut and paste thinkers. But, alas, I have comfort in being free to speak.

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By Peetawonkus, October 24, 2009 at 8:20 pm Link to this comment

calitatum
As Barney Frank said, debating you makes as much sense as debating a dining room table. You don’t understand anything about a Health Care Bill or anything else. You just know what you’ve been told to know.

I can’t think of anybody, including Joe Conason, who has said making a profit is a “sin.” Making obscene profits on the misery of millions IS a sin, and the Judeo-Christian faith is fairly clear on the subject. Of course, if your State Religion is Capitalism, like so many of you on the Right, then anyone who doesn’t worship at the altar of total greed is a heretic.

Your so-called “love” of others justifies the shooting of legally sanctioned abortion providers IN A CHURCH, in full view of his family. You people are racists, ignorant thugs and terrorists and I personally am sick and tired of hearing you yap about “your” country. It’s MY country, too.

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By calitatum, October 24, 2009 at 8:01 pm Link to this comment

I love all people of all races in all places. I not only love them with words, I love them with a sacrificial life of freeing captives, gathering the cast away, bringing justice, and serving the oppressed. It is not what I am, but what I do. All people deserve to be treated with respect, love, compassion and forgiveness. We all need the same things, love, to be heard, to be understood and to be connected to others. I love my country to die for her. I love people enough to be against abortion. I understand the so called health care bill to know it is utter disaster and absolute nonsense. To suffer fools is the least I can do to remain true to my total and absolute belief that this article is crap.

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By ardee, October 24, 2009 at 6:07 pm Link to this comment

de profundis clamavi, October 24 at 5:08 pm

you are a pedant apparently, the person in question a racist warmongering dolt…‘nuff said.

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By Peetawonkus, October 24, 2009 at 3:55 pm Link to this comment

calitatum
I was going to debate you.  But it’s obvious you’ve been so hopelessly twisted by hate and lies from Fox and whatever Frankensteinesque KKKristian/Kapitalism monstrosity you apparently worship that nothing like facts are going to make a dent in that stubborn and self-loathing Confederate skull of yours.

I will say this, though. We Democrats DO kill babies—but only during hunting season and we eat what we kill. And they are delicious.

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By lary waldman, October 24, 2009 at 2:23 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I have not been able to independantly verify this to a certainty, but I have a high regard for the source so I think it probably happened.

An older fellow had an operation under his previous health care provider. Installed was a device that when necessary stimulated his heart, to keep it pumping.

He lost his job and one day , during a visit to a friend who was a doctor found out that the device had passed it best before date, and needed the battery replaced.

He contacted the health care provider that installed the device and was told to get lost.

He died soon after, when his battery died.

Where I live, Canada, this does not happen to the poorest of the poor. It should not happen amongest the richest of the rich.

Lary Waldman
Qualicum Beach

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By de profundis clamavi, October 24, 2009 at 2:08 pm Link to this comment

By ardee, October 22 at 4:24 pm #


I didn’t think montanawildhack’s comment was ridiculously off point, nor was it a rant.

de profundis clamavi
If you contextualize it with the history of his statements here you might change your opinion. If not, well differing opinions ar estill allowed.

* * * * *

Differing opinions are still allowed, but an unsupported expression of negative opinion about somebody else which does nothing to develop the discussion of the relevant subject is boring, uninformative and only shows that the person making that expression has nothing to contribute.

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By calitatum, October 24, 2009 at 1:48 pm Link to this comment

When was it a sin to work hard & make a profit? Thank God for our health insurance companies. I don’ t know anyone who has not gotten the help they needed, when they needed it. I have friends who are on state run health care and they unilaterally HATE it.  Hello people, making a profit is a good thing. I love our current health care system. I am voting Republican until the day I die. Democrats kill a baby every 22 seconds. They don’t need health care. They are dead.

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By Baronscarpia, October 23, 2009 at 12:01 pm Link to this comment

Wowithurts said:


“You have some gall coming on here and trying to defend the insurance industry buddy! “

i do?  i defended them? go back and read it again.  i told you they were just another corporation in the broken health care system but for some odd reason we are just “fixing” them. 

——————————

But it also said:

“oh and your silly statements about insurance companies being ‘killers’.  they DENY PAYMENT…the doctors and hospital are the ones who DENY THE SERVICE.”

——————————

But it’s not defending the insurance companies.  No, no.  Not THAT!

Just another Republican tool.

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By Peetawonkus, October 23, 2009 at 11:18 am Link to this comment

Wowithurts
“there are other ways of fixing them without creating another black hole of a federal company that is worse then what we have today.”

What’s a “federal company”?
And why are they “black holes”?

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By Wowithurts, October 23, 2009 at 5:50 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“aquarius7251” “From your handle, you have GOT TO BE an insurance industry “plant”.”

Yes its always a plant…when someone disagres with you.  or they are a communist…or rasist…or etc…

i link you facts.
i link you numbers.
i agree with you that insurance companies are broken.

bam hey he must be a plant..

“Listen up smart alec - the health care system is BROKEN and the INSURANCE INDUSTRY BROKE it! “

Yes its the insurance company that broke it they are the ones forcing the drug companies to have 25% profit margins.  Yes they are the ones who forced up to over eat to the point of not being able to breath.  they are the ones who force you every night to hit up taco bell.

“TAKE IN as much money as possible and PAY OUT as little as possible using every trick you can get away with.”

Boy then they are very bad at their little “formula”  80-93% medical cost ratio’s, 3-4% profit margins.  damn they are really milking the system.


“You have some gall coming on here and trying to defend the insurance industry buddy! “

i do?  i defended them? go back and read it again.  i told you they were just another corporation in the broken health care system but for some odd reason we are just “fixing” them. 

there are other ways of fixing them without creating another black hole of a federal company that is worse then what we have today.

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By aquarius7251, October 23, 2009 at 4:32 am Link to this comment

Hey “wowithurts”.

From your handle, you have GOT TO BE an insurance industry “plant”.

Or you work for Fixed News maybe, trying to take the focus off the Republican Party’s insurance industry buddies and lay the blame elsewhere?

Sorry the other 304,059,723 Americans, minus insurance company and some other industry executives and their thieves on Capitol Hill can’t agree with you.

I have a suggestion for you. When you hit 65, be a hero and REFUSE MEDICARE and stick with your insurance company. That way hopefully, you will go bankrupt or expire sooner rather than later and we won’t have to suffer your drivel any more.

Listen up smart alec - the health care system is BROKEN and the INSURANCE INDUSTRY BROKE it! Even a 5th grader can see that.

Here’s the insurance industry formula - the ONLY formula that makes it profitable…..

TAKE IN as much money as possible and PAY OUT as little as possible using every trick you can get away with.

Well who would have guessed that they might not be totally MORAL, ETHICAL and DECENT?

The answer is simple. Medicare for all and if Medicare is underfunded by $100 billion or whatever, tax ALL the corporate executives at 80% of gross income and the problem will be solved.

And stop bailing out any more “too large to fail” insurance groups like AIG that take our taxes and pay it to their executives as bonuses!

You have some gall coming on here and trying to defend the insurance industry buddy!

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By Baronscarpia, October 23, 2009 at 4:22 am Link to this comment

Wowithurts -

“oh and your silly statements about insurance companies being ‘killers’.  they DENY PAYMENT…the doctors and hospital are the ones who DENY THE SERVICE.”

This ranks as the most stupid comment on this thread.  Far and away.

CONGRATULATIONS!

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By aquarius7251, October 23, 2009 at 3:56 am Link to this comment

Sick, sick, sick.

Why can’t we see that the Al Capones, Dutch Schultz’s and John Dillingers have moved into the boardrooms of America.

Yes - organized crime is alive and well and Elliot Ness is unfortunately, bought and paid for.

That leaves we the people as the last line of defense against these criminal scum. Unfortunately, the insurance industry’s best buddy, Big Pharma, has almost all of us on valium and too lethargic to do anything about it.

Have we just resigned ourselves and accepted that this culture of rob the poor to pay the rich is the new American way of life, and there’s nothing we can do about it?

Seems to me that Capitol Hill needs a shakeup. How about several hundred Independents or Libertarians or Constitutionalists in Congress next year?

Or have you not had enough yet America? Do you still think there are only two names on your ballots and that voting for someone that is not a “party” man or woman is somehow a wasted vote?

You have been blindly led to believe that it MUST be either Democrat or Republican or it’s no good.

Well how’s that working for you?

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By Wowithurts, October 22, 2009 at 7:09 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

wow wait you mean CEO’s are overpaid?

Lets see you complain about insurance company CEO’s but fail to talk about other problems in our health care system?

“A chief executive officer of a Standard & Poor’s 500 company was paid, on average, $10.9 million in total compensation in 2008”

so these evil companies are actually operating at what is considred “normal”

so you think insurance companies with their 3-4% profit margins are evil huh

http://biz.yahoo.com/p/5conameu.html
Hospitals 3.1%
Health insurance 3.3%
Drug Manufacturers - Major 16.8%
Home Health Care 9%
i can go on…..

hmmm
now what about those salaries

Merck In 2008, Richard T. Clark raked in $25,073,555 in total compensation.*  Profit Margin (ttm): 24.59%

Wellpoint In 2008, Angela F. Braly raked in $8,665,569 in total compensation.* In the previous year the CEO of this company made $14,859,166 Profit Margin (ttm): 4.00%

wait but health insurance are the greedy ones?

how about #2
united In 2008, Stephen J. Hemsley raked in $3,241,042 in total compensation.* Profit Margin (ttm): 4.14%

Pfizer In 2008, Jeffrey B. Kindler raked in $15,547,600 in total compensation Profit Margin (ttm): 16.32%


wait what?

and guess what industry is 10x the size of the insurance industry….and that much more of a problem.??


oh and your silly statements about insurance companies being ‘killers’.  they DENY PAYMENT…the doctors and hospital are the ones who DENY THE SERVICE.

it was the hospital that refused to do a transplant until they knew they were paid.  it was the doctor who would not see you because you had no insurance.

Sorry but the whole system is broken stop harping on insurance companies…fixing them is a drop in the bucket compaired to the whole problem

oh and one more thing….want a system run by the govt.  Guess who denys more services then insurance companies….MEDICARE.

Go read this
http://www.athenahealth.com/our-services/PayerView.php

denial rates at insurance companies.  5-7%
Medicare 8.7%

go read about it on the AMA web site/scorecard they have the same numbers.

at least these insurance companies are not underfunded by 100+billion and will be insolvent in 5 years…

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By Baronscarpia, October 22, 2009 at 3:46 pm Link to this comment

I think we should make all of the following a function of employment, just like health care is now.  So, if you’re unemployed, you don’t get the benefits of:

Public education.  Home school your children.  What the heck, you’re home doing nothing anyway, right?

Police protection.  Buy a gun.  Or steal it.  The second amendment doesn’t cost anyone anything, and the federal government won’t be in competition with gun manufacturers.

Ditto on protection by the military.  In fact, we should move all the unemployed Americans who live east of the Mississippi to Maine, and all the others to Washington.  Then, if we’re threatened by a foreign invasion, we can just sacrifice one state to the invaders.  All we’ll lose are unemployed people.

Securities Exchange Commission protection.  Let employers like regulate themselves for the benefit of their employees.  You know, like Enron.  What the heck, unemployed people don’t own stock anyway, so who’s to know?

FDA protection.  If you buy food, bring it to work and let your boss inspect it.  Or his secretary.

Fire protection.  If your house catches on fire, your employer should come to put it out.  If you don’t have a job, you probably live in a cardboard box, so it won’t take time for it to burn anyway.

Roads.  Let your company keep up your roads.  Unemployed people don’t own cars, or shouldn’t, so they don’t need this bit of public “charity.”

So remember - vote Republican!  Vote to support corporations.  They look out for the little guy way better than government does.

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By grant, October 22, 2009 at 1:55 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

And I think we have a very close parallel between today’s USA and pre-WW2 Germany, with the communists and fascists wrestling to overthrow the kaiser etc. Both sides can be seen working feverishly to create and bold and attractive leader who has powerful grassroots support in the next election.

It might be a dark horse that comes from nowhere. None of the rank-and-file politicos stand a chance.

They are looking for a Napoleon or Joan of Arc, whatever, maybe, a Mousillini or a Lenin.

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By ardee, October 22, 2009 at 1:24 pm Link to this comment

I didn’t think montanawildhack’s comment was ridiculously off point, nor was it a rant.

de profundis clamavi
If you contextualize it with the history of his statements here you might change your opinion. If not, well differing opinions ar estill allowed.

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By felicity, October 22, 2009 at 1:17 pm Link to this comment

I didn’t used to be but now I’m convinced that America has become a fascist state, a state in which large corporations become extensions of government - exactly the present condition between the health-care consortia and the government.  (And most of the present ‘plans’ being argued back and forth in Congress will only more firmly establish this revolting situation.)

And how bizarre is it that a child is denied health insurance because he weighs too much while two weeks later another child is denied health insurance because she weighs too little.  (I wait for the day when all children are denied health insurance if they have skin - an obvious pre-condition for skin cancer.)

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By Mike, October 22, 2009 at 12:14 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Defenders of the status quo on the right would be dropped by these insurance companies just as quickly as anyone else if individually insured or in a small group, and their employers won’t be able to offer them health insurance benefits in a few years, given the cost excalation.  Must be nice having people you can screw supporting your positions.

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By Peetawonkus, October 22, 2009 at 12:03 pm Link to this comment

I took montanawildhack’s comment to be enlightened sarcasm. As opposed to bitterly truthful cynicism.

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By de profundis clamavi, October 22, 2009 at 11:06 am Link to this comment

By montanawildhack, October 22 at 11:16 am #


Look, it’s very simple… If you can’t afford health care and need it run for Congress, join the military or get sent to prison….  Stop your whining… This is the greatest country in the world…


By ardee, October 22 at 11:44 am #


montanawildhack, October 22 at 11:16 am

Yet another ridiculously off point rant from the usual source of such.

* * * * *

I didn’t think montanawildhack’s comment was ridiculously off point, nor was it a rant.

It is a simple truth that if you can’t afford healthcare, you can get it by joining the army, getting elected to Congress or getting sent to prison. 

Just getting a job is less and less likely to get you healthcare, and such healthcare as you’re able to get through employment gets less and less comprehensive, and can be taken away from you if you lose your job which may occur due to many factors including . . . getting sick, which is precisely when you can’t afford to lose your healthcare.

We are told ad nauseam that America is the “greatest country in the world” and those who point out the many glaring defects in our society, our government, our economy and our policies are called “whiners”.

For Wall Street gambling racketeers, Deathcare CEOs (Cruel Egocentric Oligarchs) and Senate power sellers, America really is the Greatest Country in the World. Anywhere else, these people would be justly accused, tried and severely punished as criminals.

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By de profundis clamavi, October 22, 2009 at 10:07 am Link to this comment

“They blatantly curtail competition, lobby for federal subsidies, boost premiums, ration care and cut access, while insisting that a public option would cause all those terrible consequences. Obviously, they believe that the rest of us are chumps. And they may well be right.”

Hmm . . . National polls keep showing over and over and over again that a clear majority of the public wants the public option, and if we could have Medicare for all, we’d fight like outraged seniors before we’d let them take it away. The deathcare company CEOs didn’t get rich and fat and powerful by being stupid. They know we’re not chumps. If they think we are chumps, why would they spend so much precious money to buy the votes of all the Republican Senators and a key swing vote of corrupt Democratic Senators like Max Baucus and Mary Landrieu? These companies don’t dispense money unless they think they are going to get a handsome return on their investment. They have found that the fattest returns come from an investment in “campaign contributions”, a.k.a. bribery. If you think the deathcare companies spend money freely, just think about how hard it is to get them to pay for the treatment your doctor prescribes.

No, we’re not chumps. The Republican and Democratic Senators standing in the way of a public healthcare option aren’t chumps either. They are just in on the money game. They are the beneficiaries of a system that ensures that they really do receive healthcare that is the “best in the world”. So if 45 million of us are uninsured and 45,000 of us die each year because we are uninsured, and more of us go bankrupt and lose our homes due to medical bills than any other reason, well, those are just statistical information about a world that is remote and unreal to a Senator, like the number of children who die in Africa every year from malaria and malnutrition. None of these Senators will ever have to choose between buying the medication that keeps them alive and paying the heating bill, or the mortgage.

Even the blue collar masses who vote Republican year after year aren’t entirely chumps. They know they are getting screwed by the elites. They are chumps because they have allowed the Republican elite to persuade them that the elite that is screwing them is “liberal”, but, if you think about it for a minute, you’ll see that they’re not even entirely chumps to believe that. Just look at what a “liberal” like Obama does when he gets elected - he goes and appoints a bunch of Ivy League educated Wall Street elitists who promptly go and spend a trillion dollars of taxpayer money to try to SAVE the repulsive globalized capitalist system that keeps Wall Street fat, keeps on destroying the productive American economy, keeps on throwing millions of Americans out of work, and keeps squeezing more money out of the system to pay out in trading profits and bonuses to the richest 1%.

The Republican Party and the “moderate” faction of the Democratic Party are the right and left hands of a government of by and for the corporate elite. You ARE a chump if you don’t see that.

But a majority of us know we want universal publicly available healthcare, and if we don’t get it, it’s not because we’re chumps, it’s because we are disenfranchised and oppressed by a political system that has been hijacked by a corporate elite who get richer by making us poorer, and get more powerful by taking all that extra cash they stole from us, and using it to buy the government that, according to our Constitution, belongs to us.

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By ardee, October 22, 2009 at 8:44 am Link to this comment

montanawildhack, October 22 at 11:16 am

Yet another ridiculously off point rant from the usual source of such.

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By Peetawonkus, October 22, 2009 at 8:43 am Link to this comment

SaveTheTenth

You’d think after 9 years of being wrong about everything you righties would start seeing a pattern. Peasants, defending the “rights” of Kings. Now that’s cute.

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By montanawildhack, October 22, 2009 at 8:16 am Link to this comment

Look, it’s very simple… If you can’t afford health care and need it run for Congress, join the military or get sent to prison….  Stop your whining… This is the greatest country in the world…

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By ardee, October 22, 2009 at 6:05 am Link to this comment

SaveTheTenth, October 22 at 1:32 am

Railing against a govt bureaucracy while apologizing for the Insurance Industries labyrinthine and highly rewarded one seems a bit odd.

The fact of the matter is that Medicare operates with a three-four percent overhead, by far the lowest of any health care provider extant. While there is certainly a history of extravagance and waste in govt, Medicare, under constant attack,with budget cuts and ever more stringent requirements all designed to murder it, proves that it doesn’t have to be so.

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By Baronscarpia, October 22, 2009 at 5:51 am Link to this comment

“Savey” -

It sounds like you’re an advocate for the uninsured.  By that I mean that you’re pleased that people making $10 an hour have the “privilege” of opting out of any health care coverage at all because they don’t want to subsidize robber barons. 

Well, good on ya!

And it sounds as if you’re quite happy with the gargantuan bureaucracies the six or seven major insurers already have in place.  Why add another to compete with them when they’re already doing such a groovy job fleecing us, huh?

Excellent, Savey.  Thanks.  Fine examples of what qualifies for “thought” in the Republican rank and file. 

So keep voting for them.  After all, they do such a good job representing the interests of the “chumps in ten-buck-an-hour-land.”  I don’t know how much you really make, but the “chump” part sure fits.

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By ChaoticGood, October 21, 2009 at 11:22 pm Link to this comment

The M.I.B. (Medical Information Bureau) has records about every American’s health history.  This bureau is consulted by all healthcare insurance companies to set your rates for health insurance.  If you think you have privacy, better think again.  If you think there is competition between insurance carriers, think again.
They all use the same data.
It measures “sickness”, not “wellness”.
Our rates are set on how sick we are, not on how well we are.  Draw your own conclusions.

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By SaveTheTenth, October 21, 2009 at 10:32 pm Link to this comment

Conason: “WellPoint… paid CEO Braly just under $10 million in salary, options and bonuses, along with the use of a private jet for herself and her family. That included a raise of about $750,000 over her 2007 salary.

United Health Care, the second largest, paid CEO Stephen J. Hemsley only $3.2 million last year, but in 2007 he took home $13.2 million.

Meanwhile, the CEO of Aetna, Ronald Williams, earned $23 million in 2008, and the CEO of CIGNA, Edward Hanway, brought home a total of $120 million over the past five years, plus nearly $29 million in stock options.

...these companies actually exercise near monopolistic control of local insurance markets, which allows them to drive up costs and reduce access.”

Pssst- Joey

This might come as a surprise to you but this is exactly why some of us are against the “Health Insurance Reform” that Obama wants.

All current plans would *require* us chumps in ten-buck-an-hour-land (wages in part due to your boy Clinton and his little NAFTA excursion) to contribute to these obscene and immoral “salaries” for these fat cats.

And face whole new universes of bureaucracies.

Think.

Oh, and Joey- that was cute, that thing with Obama campaigning against Hillary’s mandates, wasn’t it

I know it gained some votes, I’m pretty sure O and the rest of the crew aren’t going to lose sleep…I mean really, it must be knee slapping time when insiders like you get together to laugh about how the wool was pulled yet another time…

Bye for now, Joey

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