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 expensive.�

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 superfluous.

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 service.

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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