Wendell Potter Profile picture
Former VP, @cigna. Whistleblower and reformed insurance propagandist. President, @cforhd. Press: andrew@feldmanstrategies.com. Speeches: info@harrywalker.com.
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Sep 28 5 tweets 2 min read
Taking a page out of the Big Insurance playbook, hospital megasystems have implemented hundreds of mergers and acquisitions that have created huge hospital monopolies.

And FINALLY these deals, and their consequences, are receiving overdue scrutiny.
wendellpotter.substack.com/p/hospital-meg… Just last week, @ShannonBrownlee took aim at hospital monopolies in @Monthly:

"there’s no evidence that megasystems are consistently providing higher-quality care" and "and certainly no less expensive, than smaller institutions."

And there's more.
Sep 8 9 tweets 5 min read
On top of what you/your employer already pay insurance companies in annual premiums + out-of-pocket expenses — insurers also get a skim of your taxes!

So much *skim* that a MAJORITY of insurers' health plan revenues are subsidized by American taxpayers!

wendellpotter.substack.com/p/the-majority… I looked at the big seven for-profit insurers’ recent earnings reports and did a little simple math to figure out how much they were bilking American taxpayers.

I’ll share my findings in the next tweets:
Aug 29 9 tweets 2 min read
I would like to remind @MarshaBlackburn that many Tennesseans are alive today and arguably enjoy a higher standard of living b/c of a gov’t program many people assailed and labeled “socialism” back in the day. .@MarshaBlackburn, I’m talking about the Tennessee Valley Authority, which employs 10,000 people in Tennessee and neighboring states.
Aug 18 5 tweets 3 min read
A CLOSER LOOK: The Mid Year Earnings of 7 Big For-Profit Insurance Companies.

The country's biggest health insurers made $43.8 billion in profits, and they took in $620.6 billion in revenue – much of it from taxpayers!

This one is a doozy.
wendellpotter.substack.com/p/a-closer-loo… In short, the county's Big 7 health insurers have had a helluva 6 months. Their profits (largely subsidized by taxpayer dollars) have made their Wall Street masters exceedingly happy + has allowed the Big 7 to amass outsized market share in the Medicare Advantage and PBM markets.
Aug 1 5 tweets 2 min read
THE BAD NEWS: Big insurers have been announcing record profits. Thanks, in part, to Americans paying sky-high out-of-pockets.

THE GOOD NEWS: Politicians and the media are FINALLY realizing that high OOP costs are breaking the budgets of American families.
wendellpotter.substack.com/p/as-big-insur… Over the last several days news outlets have begun reporting on the burden of out-of-pocket costs and even the New Democrat Caucus has endorsed a bill that would reduce out-of-pockets for most people who get their coverage through the ACA’s marketplaces.

Jul 27 4 tweets 2 min read
Despite well-financed opposition from organized dentistry, dental therapists (similar to nurse practitioners) have been embraced as a bipartisan solution to America’s “silent epidemic” of poor oral health.

wendellpotter.substack.com/p/despite-well… The dental therapy movement in the U.S. started in Alaska but has quickly spread to the lower 48 – including a recent win in Colorado.

In the coming weeks I will write about dental therapy's successes + the opposition hindering Americans from getting the care they need.
Jul 19 4 tweets 2 min read
.@UnitedHealthGrp announced they will waive out-of-pockets for some insulins and other medications for people enrolled in UnitedHealth plans, in 2023.

SPOILER ALERT: that was just a public relations ploy and very few policy holders may actually benefit.
wendellpotter.substack.com/p/its-just-spi… UnitedHealth's press release reads:
UnitedHealthcare To Eliminate Out-of-Pocket Costs on Several Prescription Drugs, Including Insulin, for Eligible Members.

The term “eligible members” is key here.
Jul 18 4 tweets 2 min read
NEW: @UnitedHealthGrp's profits EXCEEDED $7 billion in Q2, thanks in part to the company's Optum health services and its high cost-sharing obligations imposed on UnitedHealth plan policy holders.

wendellpotter.substack.com/p/high-deducti… While high deductible health plans have helped to produce record profits for UnitedHealth Group, you don't have to look far to find the brutal effects of these HDHPs on patients who have to shell out large sums of money before their treatment can begin.
Jul 12 8 tweets 2 min read
I’ve been reviewing the Senate drug bill and am baffled why it doesn’t do more to help seniors on Medicare.

The bill will help just a small percentage of Medicare beneficiaries. But it would certainly boost insurers’ and PBMs’ profits — already a big part of the problem. The Senate bill is also a huge disappointment to people with diabetes.

Almost 30% of Americans 65 and older have diabetes. Unlike the bill passed by the House, the Senate bill doesn’t include a $35 monthly insulin cap.
May 2 5 tweets 2 min read
NEW: @AnthemInc released a financial report showing $37.9 billion in revenues in just the first 3 months of 2022.

Anthem’s execs to investors: Expect to make more money this year than we previously thought possible.
wendellpotter.substack.com/p/big-insurer-… .@AnthemInc's report shows the company's new dependency on American tax dollars.

Only 27% of the revenues from Anthem's first 3 months came from private-paying individuals and employers that offered coverage to their workers.

Most of its revenue, by far, came from taxpayers.
Apr 5 5 tweets 2 min read
NEW ANALYSIS: In 2021, ONE of every FOUR dollars Americans spent on health care flowed through the "BIG 6" health insurance companies – Anthem, Centene, Cigna, CVS/Aetna, Humana and UnitedHealth.

12 years ago, it was less than ONE in TEN dollars.
wendellpotter.substack.com/p/a-decade-lon… The BIG 6 have figured out how to make Wall Street happy and it's not through enrolling private customers.

The increase in profits has come from TAXPAYERS – b/c these companies shifted their focus to gov't programs like Medicare, Medicaid, federal employees and the military.
Mar 22 7 tweets 3 min read
I climbed the corporate ladder with David Cordani, CEO of @Cigna, and Karen Lynch, CEO of @CVSHealth when the 3 of us worked at Cigna 20 yrs ago.

Now they're two of the most powerful U.S. executives, and I want to work with them again.

I'll explain.
wendellpotter.substack.com/p/these-two-he… I'm convening the Lower Out-of-Pockets NOW Coalition (@loopcoalition), a diverse group of organizations and companies trying to find solutions to what has become a rapidly growing crisis of underinsurance in the U.S. – a crisis Cordani, Lynch and I had a hand in creating.
Feb 28 4 tweets 2 min read
In 2021, @Humana and @Centene made $209 billion in revenues yet their individual and employer-sponsored health insurance businesses have been STAGNANT over the decade.

HOW'D they make so much money? Because it is coming straight from American tax dollars.
wendellpotter.substack.com/p/the-vast-maj… Humana was known mostly as a hospital company in 1989 when I started working there but in '93 executives realized it would be more lucrative to focus exclusively on health insurance. They were right!

1989: Humana's revenues were $4 Billion.
2021: Their revenues were $84 Billion.
Feb 2 5 tweets 3 min read
Really appreciate @RepSchakowsky calling out health insurer profiteering during the Congressional hearing today about price gouging during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As she noted @UnitedHealthGrp made $24 billion in profits in 2021.

More on that here:
wendellpotter.substack.com/p/while-united… Instead of reducing premiums and deductibles, @UnitedHealthGrp gave shareholders $5 billion in dividends + spent $5 billion of premium dollars buying back its own stock shares.

Deductibles and out-of-pockets have spiked, increasing more than 200% in most states over the decade.
Oct 19, 2021 7 tweets 2 min read
Still unvaccinated? There's an increasingly pressing reason – beyond the threat to the health of you and your loved ones – to get the shot against COVID-19: many health insurance companies are no longer waiving out-of-pocket costs for COVID treatment. 1/7 A new study has found 5% of privately insured COVID-19 patients were billed an average of $3,800 between March and Sept 2020, when most insurers *had waived* OOP costs for COVID care. 2/7
Sep 15, 2021 4 tweets 2 min read
Today is a big day for me because it’s a major milestone in my decade-long effort to get relief for millions of Americans with health insurance who can’t use it because my former employers have saddled them with out-of-pocket requirements many can’t possibly afford. My team at @CforHD and I today are joining forces with 17 other organizations to launch the Lower Out-of-Pockets NOW Coalition, built of groups representing patients, doctors, businesses owners, consumers and more.

Find out more about the coalition here: loopcoalition.co
Jul 22, 2021 11 tweets 4 min read
In a bombshell piece this week, @sarahkliff & @sangerkatz revealed that Americans owe much more in medical debt than previously thought, as collection agencies held $140 billion in unpaid medical bills in 2020.

Here's the crazy part: the real total is WAY higher. Let me explain. First, as the piece notes, the $140b doesn’t include anywhere close to all the medical bills Americans owe, just debts that have been sold to collection agencies. Not counted are bills patients put on credit cards & try to pay off. Many of those patients will never pay them off.
Jun 17, 2021 5 tweets 1 min read
Now that the Supreme Court has once again upheld the Affordable Care Act, lawmakers in Washington and the states must get serious about fixing its flaws and addressing what one Obama administration official called “a huge mistake.” It’s good that the law enabled 21 million people to get health insurance but 30 million are still uninsured.

The other problem is that 40% of people with Obamacare insurance and 30% with coverage through employers can’t use it b/c of impossibly high out-of-pocket requirements.
Jun 10, 2021 6 tweets 2 min read
IMPORTANT: While many of us fought for major reform to our broken health care system (and President Biden campaigned on a public option), nothing has happened on the federal level.

But! Serious action is happening in the states. Most recently: Nevada. Here's why that matters: The Nevada Option was just signed by its governor, and will lower premiums & cover 350k uninsured Nevadans. The bad news? The fight wasn’t easy, as the industry poured millions into propaganda to confuse voters.

The good news? We now have a blueprint for how to beat them back.
May 19, 2021 9 tweets 3 min read
Congrats, America! Two days after Tax Day, you’ve made it to... Deductible Relief Day! 🍾🎉🎊

What's that?

It’s the day where the average person with employer-based health insurance has spent enough on health expenses to finally meet their deductible. Health insurance deductibles have been rising so rapidly (year after year after year) that the Kaiser Family Foundation (@KFF) decided to track the trend to show how severely Americans are getting ripped off (and sick).

And it’s bad:
Apr 29, 2021 7 tweets 2 min read
In last night's speech by @POTUS, something stood out to me that was overlooked by many pundits: the president spoke of the NEED to fix sky-high health insurance deductibles immediately. It's not the sexiest topic, but here's why it matters: Many think that the only ones suffering in this health care system are those without insurance. They're struggling big time, but know who else is? People with BAD insurance. The fact is, millions of Americans can’t use their coverage because their deductibles are so damn high.