Top CEO defends America�s health insurance industry (press conference)
By Carmen Yarrusso
Online Journal Contributing Writer
Jan 13, 2010, 00:16
Good morning. I�ll open with a brief comment and then take
questions . . .
America�s health insurance industry is being demonized and
unfairly attacked by extreme left-wing zealots. As CEO of the most profitable
health insurance company in America, I�m here today to set the record straight.
Because most Americans don�t have a clue how we make our
money, many instinctively blame the health insurance industry for America�s
health care crisis. That�s nonsense!
I�ll explain exactly how we make our money. The problem
isn�t America�s much maligned health insurance industry -- after all, producing
billions in profits each year can�t be a �problem.�
The problem is too many irresponsible people getting sick
when they can�t afford it. If you can�t afford a new car, you shouldn�t buy
one. If you can�t afford to get sick, you shouldn�t get sick. The hard truth is
many of us must learn to responsibly forgo expensive illnesses.
If you can�t afford a heart attack, put it off a few years --
ideally, until you�re 65. If you get sick, get something you can afford like
Swine flu (at least for the time being). If you win the lottery, then you can
have that heart attack or get the pancreatic cancer you�ve been wanting, proud
that you�re getting sick responsibly.
Remember, we�re not in this �for our health� and we�re
certainly not in this for your health. As corporations, we don�t give a
rat�s ass about your health. We�re in this legal con game to make easy money
and to compete with each other for customers and shareholders.
I�ll take questions . . .
Okay, exactly how do you make money and compete with each
other for customers and shareholders?
We make money by charging you excessive premiums and
spending as little as possible on your health care -- it�s that simple. Every
dollar we piss away on your health care is a dollar less for our shareholders.
We don�t compete for customers who�ll likely need
health care; that would be stupid. We compete for customers who�ll likely not
need health care. Our motto is: �If they�re sick, get away quick, if they�re
healthy we�ll get wealthy.�
We compete with each other by inventing creative ways to not
pay for your health care, starting with shunning those of you who need it most.
The companies most adept at not paying for your health care produce the most
profits, get the most shareholders, and pay the fattest bonuses to their CEOs.
Can you cite examples of these �creative ways� you�ve
invented to not pay for our health care?
Sure. You�re all familiar with rejecting people with
pre-existing conditions, dropping you the millisecond you actually need health
care, recruiting the healthiest Americans while rejecting the sickest and
charging prohibitively high premiums if you�re likely to get sick. But these
are just smart business practices, not really creative.
Real creativity is getting to charge an exorbitant price for
a product and then finding legal ways to not deliver the product. Imagine if
car dealers could sell you a high-priced car and then find legal ways to not
deliver the car -- or maybe deliver only the bumpers and one wheel?
The bulk of our creativity goes into designing thousands of
different health care plans loaded with various deceptive loopholes that give
us myriad ways to not pay for your health care. Hidden deep in legal terms, all
our plans essentially say, �We�ll cover you unless your treatment gets
We get our most creative actuaries and brightest lawyers
together to design thousands of complex �a la carte� plans that ultimately
allow us to not pay for your health care. For example, one plan might cover
only organs on the left side of your body, while another covers only right-side
organs. This gives us a 50/50 chance we�ll be able to not pay for your health
care -- of course, neither plan covers your heart since it ambiguously straddles
both left and right.
But doesn�t having thousands of different complex plans
unnecessarily add hundreds of billions yearly to America�s health care costs?
Duh! Yeah, our creativity forces health care providers to
endure a paperwork nightmare of delays and denials that costs Americans
hundreds of billions each year. But that�s not our problem.
Imagine how hard it would be for us to not pay for your
health care if we had just one plan for all that said simply, �We�ll cover all
medical procedures your caregivers deem necessary for your health as long as
these procedures are accepted, standard medical practice.� Such a plan would
leave us no room for creativity or profits thus making our very existence
Isn�t that how single-payer would work?
Yes, exactly. Single-payer would instantly end our legal con
game. That�s why single-payer is �off the table.�
It sounds like competition in the health care industry is
really a �race to the bottom�?
Only if your concern is health care. Our concern is profits.
Remember, we compete to not pay for your health care. The company that
can most deftly delay or deny payment for your health care wins, keeping
billions of your health care dollars each year for providing that vital
As the �middle man� between us and our health care
providers, what value do you add to our health care?
Surly you jest! We add only cost. We take a dollar you give
us for your health care and give you back at most 70 cents worth of care -- and
good luck collecting that 70 cents.
How do you justify returning only 70 percent of our
health care dollars when single-payer Medicare returns over 90 percent?
Medicare doesn�t have to pay out billions in profits to
shareholders. Medicare doesn�t have to hire an army whose only job is designing
ways to not pay for your health care. And Medicare doesn�t have to pay Congress
millions in bribes.
Are you saying millions of our health care dollars go to
bribing those who supposedly represent the American people?
Duh! It�s the only way anyone can do business in DC.
Keeping this very lucrative con game legal ain�t cheap. We
had to shell out millions in bribes to keep single-payer �off the table.� How
else could you get the �representatives of the people� to keep an obvious,
proven solution to our health care crisis completely �off the table�?
�Fellow members of Congress, there�s a system out there used
by 28 of the world�s top industrialized nations that delivers significantly
superior health care for about half the cost of our system and it delivers it
to every citizen. I don�t see any reason to waste our precious time
debating the merits of that system, do any of you? (two second pause) Okay,
it�s settled, single-payer is off the table.�
I�ve got time for one more question . . .
Do you support the health care reform bills currently
being considered by Congress?
Absolutely! We�re thrilled at the prospect of not paying for
the health care of millions of additional Americans.
Of course, we don�t like the clauses forcing us to cover
pre-existing conditions, not allowing us to drop sick people, and other
provisions that limit our ability to not pay for your health care. But
sometimes you have to compromise and return some chump change to the people
just to stay in business. C�est la vie.
Thanks for coming.
Carmen Yarrusso lives on a river in a small town
in New Hampshire and often writes about uncomfortable truths.
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