Ex-Exec: Insurers Rip Off Customers

Senate panel hears of junk policies, efforts to dump sick peope
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 24, 2009 8:10 PM CDT
Sen. John D. (Jay) Rockefeller, D-W.Va., chair of the Commerce Committee, in a file photo.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

(Newser) – In the latest battle in the public vs. private health insurance debate, private insurers took a beating today on Capitol Hill. The gist, as presented by a Senate report and testimony from a former PR executive: Insurance companies routinely make consumers pay for bills the companies themselves should cover, sell "junk" policies, try to drum out sick people to keep up profits, and purposely make paperwork almost impossible to understand, reports the Washington Post and ABC.

The star of the day was Wendell Potter, a former PR exec for Cigna, who testified before the Commerce Committee. Insurers "confuse their customers and dump the sick, all so they can satisfy their Wall Street investors," he said. While noting that he wasn't implying wrongdoing at Cigna, Potter said the industry as a whole "is really going in the wrong direction and taking this country in the wrong direction."