Sunday, July 19, 2009

Former top health insurance exec blows the whistle

Wendell Potter was the top CIGNA spokesman for many years, then he took a short trip.

I thought I could live with being a well-paid huckster and hang in there a few more years until I could retire. I probably would have if I hadn't made a completely spur-of-the-moment decision a couple of years ago that changed the direction of my life. While visiting my folks in northeast Tennessee where I grew up, I read in the local paper about a health "expedition" being held that weekend a few miles up U.S. 23 in Wise, Va. Doctors, nurses and other medical professionals were volunteering their time to provide free medical care to people who lived in the area. What intrigued me most was that Remote Area Medical, a non-profit group whose original mission was to provide free care to people in remote villages in South America, was organizing the expedition. I decided to check it out.

That 50-mile stretch of U.S. 23, which twists through the mountains where thousands of men have made their living working in the coalmines, turned out to be my "road to Damascus."

Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw when I reached the Wise County Fairgrounds, where the expedition was being held. Hundreds of people had camped out all night in the parking lot to be assured of seeing a doctor or dentist when the gates opened. By the time I got there, long lines of people stretched from every animal stall and tent where the volunteers were treating patients.

That scene was so visually and emotionally stunning it was all I could do to hold back tears. How could it be that citizens of the richest nation in the world were being treated this way?

The whole piece can be read here.


kerfuffler said...

Well, how nice for him now that his savings from a long, lucrative career are safe in a Swiss bank account or whatever. How much of his "ill gotten gains" is he willing to donate to organizations such as that Remote Area Medical team.

It just seems rather like he jumped ship because he saw that it was sinking, not because he saw someone drowning in the water. Now in his current position and with his "expertise" in the healthcare industry perhaps he will angle for a new position-----kind of like how some of the guilty parties in the financial mess managed to insert themselves into the government efforts to resolve that crisis. After all, they knew how it all worked.

OK, perhaps he's on the level, but it still seems a little late in the game to switch sides.

kerfuffler said...

But I suppose I am skeptical of him because since he is after all a PR person, is he just marketing himself as a leader on this issue?

djinn said...

Very good points, but at least he's saying mean things about his former industry, unlike the gazillion Goldman-Sachs alumnae infesting the upper portions of the Obama administration whose day job seems to be keeping Goldman extremely fat and extremely happy.