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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 4, 2013
The author nails the malignant insurance industry, but nothing particularly new here. Looks like he was getting back at someone from his old employer, but at least skewers the sleazy lobbies and shell organizations that serve as pimps for congressmen.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 4, 2013
This is one of the books that shows the reasons why we need single payer health insurance. We are the last advanced country that puts up with this joke. Someone said, " Never let a capitalist near a Health Care system." How right they were!!!
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on September 4, 2015
For a few years, I had the "opportunity" to be the medical director of a small(20,000 lives covered, as they say in the health insurance industry) Health Maintenance Organization(HMO). There I learned that the most important number in the life of a health insurance executive is the "pmpm." This translates to "per member per month" which translates to profit, profit, profit--the singularly driving force behind every single decision inside a health insurance company. Thus a CEO of a health insurance company gets paid in the millions for deciding what health care the patient will not receive while the primary care doctor may receive something under $100,000 for actually being there for patients--at a birth, dealing with a trauma, learning of a spreading cancer, terminating life support while consoling a grieving family. These moments can happen most anytime of day or night, 24/7 365 days per year. Meanwhile, the millionaire insurance executive works 9-12, takes an hour or two for a gourmet, martini lunch, wraps up the afternoon with a couple hours conference call with lobbyists from the Anerican Health Insurance Plans(AHIP) "advocacy" organization. In this meeting of fellow Gucci enthusiasts, the CEO learns the latest update on how the AHIP is posturing and posing and buying more Congressional votes with catchy marketing phrases and "position" papers solely intended to maximize their pmpm , eg, profits, while pretending to maximize the population's health. Wendell Potter has worked inside such a corporate health insurance company and delivers observations of the infuriating inner workings of the health insurance industry and its relentless machinations to protect and expand profits while selling the idea that your actual daily healthcare matters to the boardroom. Wendell Potter has been there and has news for all citizens--the AHIP exists to make sure the status quo remains, that is to say that the USA will continue to lag far behind the civilized countries of the world in its collective compassion for the less fortunate, those who live in the "shadows" of our violent society, the uninsured while pretending that the millionaire-laden boardrooms of health insurance companies care about your health. Wendell Potter has been there-his message to you the reader, the citizen--They Don't Care, Wake Up!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 10, 2013
This book was an incredible expose of corporations, the Republicans and the HMO conglomerates in general. Their utter control over our health care and their total disregard for our health, the profits that are their only concern.
It is scarey.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 19, 2012
Health insurance companies are generally held in low esteem, and many of us would love to see them disappear, replaced by the same type of government-funded universal health care that other civilized nations enjoy. Wendell Potter, formerly with one of the nation's biggest insurers, CIGNA, gives us an insider's look at how for-profit insurance companies operate in THEIR interests (as in, making lots of money off our premium dollars) rather than in the public interest.

Potter is not a medical expert; rather, he was Public Relations (PR) chief, first for Humana and later for CIGNA. Starting his career as a journalist, he moved into PR because of the better pay, and soon moved up the ladder. As he got to the top job in his profession, he was more privy to the thinking and actions of the CEO and his executive suite advisors. Perhaps because of his own humble beginnings in a small rural town, Potter began to have some doubts about how his company operated. He stresses that what these top executives really cared about was the company stock price, which affected the value of their stock options. What kept the stock price high was having the right "Medical Loss Ratio" which measures how much the company spends on medical care. In Wall Street thinking, the less they spend on YOUR medical care, the more valuable the company stock. So the main incentive of health insurers is to spend as little as possible on actual health care.

Potter walks the reader through various trends in health insurance, including HMOs, which ultimately failed and have been replaced by "consumer-driven health plans" in which more costs are passed on to patients. Some plans offer such skimpy coverage that Potter refers to them as the "illusion of insurance." High-deductible plans coupled with Health Savings Accounts have been sold as a way to hold down costs, but they are a disaster for low-income people who cannot afford the deductibles, which typically are never reached, so health services are always paid-for out-of-pocket.

Potter's qualms about his job reached a crescendo with the Nataline Sarkisyan case, his last "spin" assignment before quitting his high-paying, stock-option executive job at CIGNA. The Sarkisyan family was insured through CIGNA and relied on the insurance to treat Nataline's leukemia. The treatment worked for some time before the disease returned, and Nataline received a bone marrow transplant. But there were complications that affected her liver. She needed a liver transplant, which her doctor was preparing for (a match liver had been found) when CIGNA refused to authorize it. They wanted more tests and opinions, and the well-matched donated liver had to be given to someone else. The family mobilized the Armenian community to protest publicly; the case received a great deal of media coverage, which sparked outrage across the nation. Once CIGNA capitulated and approved the transplant, it was too late to save Nataline, who died.

Potter was also deeply affected by the work of Remote Area Medical (RAM), an organization founded by Stan Brock, which formerly flew an older airplane full of medical people and supplies into remote area of the world to provide medical assistance to people who did not normally have access to care. But Brock, seeing the need in America, now visits rural unserved parts of the US, bringing services to the poor (and more recently, the underinsured middle-class) who have been doing without care. Attending one of their "expeditions" near his own home town in Tennessee, Potter was deeply moved by the long lines of people, some waiting overnight for a place in line, who came to get the care they could not otherwise afford. It caused him to question how well health insurance - his industry - was serving the public. He had to conclude that it wasn't.

After leaving his job at CIGNA, Potter searched for ways to let the public know how PR executives and large PR firms "spin" health insurance products to look like they serve the public when they really serve shareholders. He finally connected with someone who arranged for him to testify before Congress. That brought him into the public eye, and he has appeared on TV and radio talking about the health insurance industry. He now works with several public think tanks that support real health care reform.

Many books (good books!) are out there detailing how the US health care "system" (if you can call it that) fails the American people. This book is a bit different from any of them since it is the story of an insider, someone with a conscience, who could no longer do what he was doing. My only disappointment with the book is that I wish he had said more about Obamacare and how he thinks it will play out. It leaves these same insurance companies (which have been consolidating into a smaller number of huge for-profit giants) in charge of our health care. He does say that passing health care reform was the right thing to do, but does not make any predictions of whether it will ultimately be viewed as a success, a waypoint on the road to real universal health care, or a failure that may produce a backlash that ensures our nation will continue to suffer, alone among civilized nations allowing profit to drive the health care we all need.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 10, 2011
The primary focus is on how scientific spin in the direction of what's bad for Americans with regard to healthcare, was/is real. A true, formr practionier of that curious art is the author, who hs written a superb book for research purposes or for poolside perusal and alot of "holy s....s", loudly exclaimed to the upsetment of the dude sleeping next to you on that rusted recliner.

Mr. Potter spends additional time outside of healthcare itself and details how lobbyists have joined the propaganda parade, led by Foxnews, and others.

He adroitly points out that when healthcare insurers joined the Wall Street Casino, opened by a certain former-Governor of California, the heavy rollers (aka stockholders) tooke precedence over tax payers with pre-existing conditions - and their children.

He objectively analzyes The Affordable Health Care Plan; notes that the Public option [removal] compromise really made a permanent dent in the chassis. I agree when he says that as awkward and expensive as HC Reform is (the RNC-Foxnews "Obamacare" soundbite to be repeated ad nauseam), it is the onlychance to address such concerns as I mentioned in the above paragraph.

In enjoyed his Vance Packard, "The Hidden Persuaders" reference; especially liked his insight into the modern day advertising version which incorporates a kind of behavior modification of those who straddle the fence on Healthcare and other "Leftist" issues.

Not to give away too much but his admission that he worked on undermining Michael Moore's movie "Sicko", just might shock you. Maybe you'll jump right into the Index andcheck that out.

I believe Potter was confronted by Moore on MSNBC and he stepped up to the mike and said, yes, I was one of those guys.

man, I gotta go back and re-read a few parts. I'll control my outbursts at the olympic sized ocean facsimile.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 20, 2011
This is an outstanding book - one of those that alters your perception of how the world works. It should be required reading for every American who votes and writes to his elected representatives. Unfortunately, the story Potter tells is one of deceit, deception, denial and destruction. It is not a pretty picture. Sure, we all knew the Washington lobbyists had input to our elected representatives. We also probably bought at least some of the posturing from the politicians that the money the lobbyists spend does not buy their votes - that they listen to all sides and then make the right decision based on their constituents needs and wishes. This book very clearly puts the lie to the picture painted by our politicians. It also strips away any thought that "the truth will out and the good guys will win in the end". Wendell Potter gives a gripping first person insider account of what is really going on. The focus of the majority of the book is around the health care debate and how we got the law we got. He also tells how the same manipulations being done by other special interests including the tobacco industry through BP Petroleum and the Gulf oil spill to many others. I don't like the ugly picture this book paints but we all need to absorb the lessons in it.

I was overcome with a great sense of despair for our government when I finished the book. The big corporate interests have not only taken over the government, they have deceived and bamboozled us in the process. We get led around by planted stories, demonstrations, news leaks and other carefully choreographed deceptions. The real victim is the truth - it was murdered in plain sight but we never took the time to examine it or to believe how bad it has gotten. Laws are written to benefit the corporations who have purchased our government. This is a very strong book and we have to thank the author for his honesty. We now know what we were being shown during the health care debate was not what the news had us believe - it was all theater. The saddest part is the participants in the demonstrations did not know they were being manipulated and used.

After you finish reading it, share this book with your friends. I also suggest you send a copy to your elected representatives - they need to know that we the people know what is going on and we are demanding honesty and truth.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 1, 2010
This book is explosive. I warn you right now that if you have a heart condition, high blood pressure, or are prone to fits of not read it.
Buy it for a friend. But do not read it. I am a smart person. I thought I was pretty wise about what goes on behind closed doors.
When I saw Keith Oberman interviewing Michael Moor and Wendell Potter...I got a slight idea of the mean and totally organized methods these companies use
to discredit people who might be dangerous to their profits. But I had no idea that health insurance companies actually hire people to kill us. 123 people
die every day due to a lack of health insurance. That's about 45,000 people a year.
The techniques revealed in this book by a man who actually implemented them himself are disgusting. How can people do this to other people? We declared
war on a country that we thought was responsible for killing 3000 people on 9/11. We lock up murderers and execute some. How do insurance company executives
get away with killing 45,000 people a year who don't have insurance? They have fought health care reform for many years and even FDR, Nixon, Carter, and Clinton
could not get it passed due to the methods of public relations used by these companies. Their executives retire with the last year of salary of 22 million dollars
and stock options, while they are denying claims to their customers.
They use the most scientific methods of public relations, polling, and advertising to lie to the American people and to our representatives. They have front
organizations with nice sounding names that are fake. How can we allow these companies to continue to exist? Is there no law that covers killing by denial of treatment?
Is there no law that covers deception and dishonesty to block laws from being made?
Wendell Potter is the man who tells us the sordid story. I don't know whether to love or hate him. He did it for so many years and it took a movie by Michael Moore to
wake him up. I guess it is better late than never. But you will read this book and the country will go on and kill another 45,000 people this year.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 4, 2013
Everyone should be aware of what health insurance companies are doing, behind the scenes. This book is difficult to put down, and is told from the point of view of a former health insurance company executive - the whistleblower.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 11, 2011
Great book. You want to take your time reading this one, there is a lot there but the message is what comes out of most big companies isn't the truth. They are in business to make money, in whatever way possible.
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