Until we have single-payer, Medicare for All healthcare in America, insurance companies will continue to screw their customers in as many ways as possible. For now, though, the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, is at least helping people who were previously uninsured–or uninsurable according to the skewed rules of the industry–to avoid health-crisis-induced bankruptcy. Many of the new rules in the Affordable Care Act eliminate the worst abuses of the old system. But bad practices persist. Recently, HealthCare-Now!–a group that advocates for a Medicare-for-All system- asked its supporters to submit nominations for the 2013 Award for Profiteering and Deceit in the Private Health Insurance Industry. Of course, HealthCare Now’s contest was unscientific, and mostly a public-relations stunt, but the results are enlightening anyway. Based on the submissions HealthCare Now received, the top vote-getters are:
UnitedHealth, for paying its CEO, Stephen Hemsley, $49 million in 2012. HealthCare Now notes that among CEOs, healthcare CEOs receive the highest median pay at $11.1 million. There are thousands of insurance companies, but the seven largest publicly traded health plans alone are paid their CEOs a collective $87 million.
Humana, for charging women over 50% more than men for the same insurance plan.
Anthem Blue Cross for predatory premium increases.
Moda Health for paying $40 million for naming rights to the Portland Trailblazers arena.
Each of these examples is emblematic of the stuff health-insurance companies continue to get away with, and that could be reigned in–if not eliminated–under a Medicare-for-All system. Or, as Health-Now puts it:
Under a single-payer health plan, health coverage would be offered as a public good to all, administered by civil servants who will not siphon millions of dollars meant for patient care into their personal bank accounts. So we could use that $87 million in wasted money on CEOs to pay for as many as 8,700 hip replacements.