Rachel Maddow talks to whistleblower Wendell Potter about the health care industry's rising profits while more and more Americans lose their health care insurance.
MADDOW: Are you by any chance a health insurance company executive? No? Me neither. And you and I, therefore, even though I know nothing else about you, you and I have one thing in common for sure. We are both in the wrong line of work.
SEC filings show that between the year 2000 and the year 2007, profit of the country‘s 10 largest health insurance companies rose 428 percent. In 2000, they had $2.4 billion in profit. By 2007, it was $12.9 billion.
Now, of course, this is America, we are capital C “Capitalists,” nobody begrudges anyone a ginormous profit, particularly if they‘re serving an important national need, like providing health insurance to the American people.
So, while the 10 biggest health insurance companies were seeing their profits rise over 400 percent between 2000 and 2007, how were they doing at serving that important national need? How were they doing at the whole providing health insurance to the American people thing? Eww! Apparently, while they quadrupled their profits between 2000 and 2007, the number of Americans without health insurance grew by 19 percent.
That seems bad. But not for everyone - also by 2007, the CEOs of the 10 largest health insurance companies were taking home an average compensation of $11.9 million each every year, while the number of Americans without health insurance for whom a burst appendix can mean bankruptcy has gone through the roof.
It was the insurance industry that bankrolled efforts to kill the last effort of health care reform in Bill Clinton‘s first term. And now, the industry says they‘re OK with reform of a sort. They just want to make sure that they don‘t get any competition from a non-profit government-run insurance plan that patients could opt into if they didn‘t like what the private sector was dishing out. You know, if I was a health insurance company executive, I‘m sure I would want that, too.
Joining us now is a former health insurance executive-turned-whistle blower, his name is Wendell Potter, and he was the head of public relations for CIGNA, one of the nation‘s largest insurers. He‘s now a senior fellow on health care at the Center for Media and Democracy.