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Deadly Spin

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  548 ratings  ·  162 reviews
That's how Wendell Potter introduced himself to a Senate committee in June 2009. He proceed to explain how insurance companies make promises they have no intention of keeping, how they flout regulations designed to protect consumers, and how they make it nearly impossible to understand information that the public needs. Potter quit his high-paid job as head of public relat ...more
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Published November 1st 2010 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (first published October 25th 2010)
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This was a very interesting but puzzling book from my Canadian perspective. It was also disquieting in that our conservative politicians seem intent on pushing us towards an American model in regards to public services. From our point of view, how can the American people be so fearful of "big government" controlling healthcare? At least governments can be voted out, or pressured to work for the people. If you are in a democracy (And you are, right America?) then you government ostensibly works f ...more
I have been following Wendell Potter with fascination since he first surfaced on Countdown and then in the long interview with Bill Moyers. It is rare indeed to find a top-level executive who will set aside his career in order to follow his conscience. Potter is such a man. I was delighted to receive an advance copy of the book through Goodreads and am pleased to review it.
It is not fun to read. I say this because of the content. The style is altogether excellent, the work of a trained journali
I read this book because it is mentioned in Nader's Getting Steamed Over Corporatism. I also read it because I am one of the more than 50 million Americans without health insurance in a country where the corporate interest always takes precedence over individuals. Mr. Potter knows of what he speaks. He worked in public relations for 25 years, 15 of those years for CIGNA, one of America's beloved "It's not our fault!" corporate insurers.

Yes, Mr. Nader and Mr. Potter, I'm steamed! Just a few of We
The title of this book, "Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans" is a bit off-putting. Reading it, I mentally prepared myself for a diatribe written by a disgruntled low-level employee out to get his pound of flesh. We all know that health insurance companies are in the habit of denying coverage and raising premiums, occasionally exorbitantly, but they aren’t all that bad, right? Surely not as bad as the Wall Street ...more
Richard Etzel
If you ever wondered how the state of health care got into the current mess with millions of Americans without insurance, then you must read this book. The second title tells it all. Wendell Potter, a "spin doctor" for Cigna insurance left the company when it became impossible for him to live with his conscience. Decisions to refuse service to Cigna customers, even if it involved imminent death or death itself, finally caused him to say "enough". He had to do something to alert the public so he ...more
It took me a week or so to devote enough time to this one, and I'm glad I waited until I had time to really focus on what Potter had to say.

After just a few pages, I had to break out the highlighter. Post-it notes and bent page corners just weren't cutting it - Potter packs so much info into this 250-pager. It was not, like I had initially feared, incredibly dense, but was written in a way that made all Potter's points and explanations easily understandable and relatable. Like many people, I've
Best... midlife... crisis.. ever.

I agree with those reviewers who say that the book is a little unfocused (PR + healthcare + journalism), and I also agree with those who assert that it could be split into multiple books (and may well be in the future). My only other gripe is that Potter avoids thorough explanations of some complex and confusing subjects to avoid losing his reader (e.g. ERISA - I still don't really get what happens when the insurers are tried on a federal level).

Finally, though
Jan 03, 2011 Giselle rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Giselle by: goodreads
Shelves: first-reads
I won this book through goodreads first-reads! Wendell Potter is a courageous person, and he is genuinely penitent about any possible harm his career in the Medical Industrial Complex has done to individuals, groups or classes of individuals, and to the Nation at large. He is awash with a desire to make amends. Cool.

The best amends consist of revealing his insider knowledge of the Medical Industrial Complex, the healthcare insurance industry, and the history of legal and illegal activities and m
Barb McCarthy
This book does more than give you an insider's perspective on what the health insurance industry is doing to destroy the public health option. It gives a historical perspective of why health costs have increased astronomically and how all the players share responsibility. Our government representatives are not educated well enough in the spin industry and the ability for these companies to use our premium dollars to sell us short is disgusting. I think we are all aware how PR firms manipulate in ...more
Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out On How Corporate PR Is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans by Wendell Potter

“Deadly Spin” is the excellent, insightful book about Public Relations spin. The focus of this book is on health-care spin. Former public-relations executive Wendell Potter provides an expose of corporate greed and human indifference that will make you sick. This 304-page book is composed of the following twelve chapters: I. The Beginning, II. The Campaign Agai
I read this at the same time as Michael Lewis's The Big Short, and found Deadly Spin both more interesting and more important - despite its much lower profile and promotional budget. This is despite my initial hesitancy, totally unfounded, that its contents might be somehow obsolete or stale in light of the recent health care legislation.

While Potter focuses on the PR tricks of for-profit health insurers (who can increase their profits by decreasing their payouts to policyholders), he also shows
Clif Hostetler
I've long been puzzled why many Americans seem to be more frightened by government provided health insurance than they are of private health insurance companies. Even many of those who are currently covered by Medicare are alarmed at the prospect of "socialized medicine" that may result from implementation of a public option of health insurance. Do people really trust their insurance companies that much?

This book partly explains why many people have unrealistic fears that cause them to support p
This book might be called "The Trials and Tribulations of a Whistleblower." An executive with PR responsibilities at large health insurance firms, after 20 years or so his conscience woke him up, he got out, and joined the other side. While I don't think health insurers are any more honest or ethical than tobacco companies, big oil companies, I wish the author were equally skeptical of Obama, Pelosi, Reid, et al. The bits of history I *know* he gets wrong make me suspicious of his relating of ot ...more
I get so frustrated when people get their "facts" from websites, email, and sponsored newscasts. We all need to carefully research the facts before we speak out for or against partisan action. Read and discern. I make a point of reading books written by those on the right and the left and those who have real experience with the issues. That said, this is a great look at how the insurance industry deceives us and how public relation experts are able to manipulate (spin) us. This is not a slur on ...more
I wish I could say that this book was full of lies and exaggerations, because that would make reflections on the Health Care debate much more palatable. Much of what Potter says are things I'd prefer not to acknowledge, and hearing it from an industry insider only makes everything sound worse. It was especially revealing to see how the spin authored by Insurance PR staffs to protect the industry and not the public became sound bites for political activits supposedly acting on the behalf of the p ...more
Good overview of the history of health care reform attempts in the US, but I was hoping for something with a little more insider info on the health insurance industry. Yes, I know they are motivated by profit, and I understand the concept of astroturf lobbying. Maybe this book would be a little more groundbreaking for someone who wasn't familiar with the skanky side of PR, but I've been watching corporate PR scum tactics for nearly 20 years, so it wasn't as interesting as I expected.

And the bigg
Potter's book is part autobiography and wholly expose from within of how the medical insurance industry corporations have repeatedly derailed efforts at health care reform. He also details the industry's duplicitous campaign, partly successful, to defeat the health care reform legislation which President Obama sought. Potter moves on from there to summarize the "playbook" industries use to defeat reform efforts and outlines exactly how tobacco, BP and big banks have used the playbook to deflect ...more
A fascinating look into the world of manipulation of public opinion, and, by extension, reality

Potter provides an insider's perspective on how health-insurance conglomerates did their level-best to eviscerate or defeat the Affordable Care Act, painting the then-nascent legislation as a "government takeover" of healthcare, raising the specter of bureaucrat-overseen "death panels" and generally spreading lies and disinformation to media outlets in many creative ways. As a former PR executive for C
Sarah Peterson
I can't say enough of this book. I am telling everyone I know to read it. It's very eye-opening about the way big business affects our government and essentially tricks our people into thinking certain ways. I always knew they did this, but now I know HOW they do this, and I am enraged by it. I am looking at political campaigns in a totally different light now.

The book is very informative. It gets a little "sloggy" at times. It's hard to understand, especially when he uses several abbreviations
Omar Leal
Definitely a must read if you are interested in how large insurance companies have altered and skewed the health care debate since the early 1900's, with particualr empahsis on recent trends. Makes a nice companion to Bernays, Propaganda (if you can find it), in that, the ideas presented in that work inform this book (as the author himself often notes). Some may be tempted to find a politcal bias in the book, but looking at the overall book objectively, the author's main concern is the lack of i ...more
Part memoir and part investigation, Wendell Potter’s Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR Is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans chronicles his time in the insurance industry, including the covert behind PR campaign against healthcare reform, and what ultimately led to him resigning from his high-level executive position at CIGNA. Even early on it is striking how many of the talking points from the health insurance industry have made their way into opp ...more
Steven Womack
As someone who has wrestled with the American healthcare system and paid astronomically exorbitant health insurance premiums for years, I was thrilled and outraged to hear an insider's account of how the American healthcare system came to the deplorable and horrible state in which it now sits. I believe that if something isn't done, the cost of healthcare is going to bankrupt this country over time. What good is it to have a the "best" healthcare system in the world if it's unaffordable and inac ...more
You know an author of a non-fiction book like this has done their job if you are MAD at the end. Well, this is one book that took me a long time to read because I was mad at the end of nearly every chapter.

I knew there was something that smelled like rotten fish throughout the campaign waged against the Affordable Care Act while it was in Congress. What I did not realize was the depth of the rot and dishonesty of the campaign -- it took an insider like Wendell Potter, a former health insurance
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Very quick read--killed it on the train from NY to Boston.

The author is apparently on a mission to undo what he did as PR executive for a major health insurer. Those familiar with health policy will find they are not talked down-to--and there's a valiant attempt to explain ERISA in a way that makes some sense.

I'd say about half of the book composes the author's personal story and why he has done what he has, a quarter is about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and another quarter i
I really struggled with how to review the book.

It was well written and thought-provoking. The author is very knowledgeable about healthcare and insurance companies, having worked as a top PR representative of multiple insurance companies. Regardless of your political beliefs and your opinions on healthcare, this book is worthwhile reading.

This would also be excellent reading for a public relations major (that was my major in college) as the author is self-reflective and discusses the ethics of P
Dec 19, 2011 Pauline rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: PR people, people concerned about healthcare
There are a lot of problems with our current healthcare system and this book does a great job exposing them and showing how media skews our opinions and perceptions about healthcare. I was a business major in college and took several classes on how the correct advertising/message could change an entire consumers perspective on a product for a company and how it would effect the company's image. Thus, reading this book had me nodding my head the entire time.

Public relations is an extremely power
You know, I usually read fiction - ghost stories, love stories, fantasies, murders, thrillers -- stuff like that. I read to be entertained, unless I'm reading my medical journals.

But this one caught my eye. I saw an interview with Mr. Potter that was shown in the class where I was a teaching assistant, when he first left Cigna and began to give public interviews. It was outrageous. But that was nothing to what you'll read in this book.

You'll be angry. You'll be really, really angry -- and you'll
Todd Martin
The 20th century has been characterized by four developments of great importance: the growth of political democracy, the growth of online democracy, the growth of corporate power, and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy.

- Alex Carey

As former Vice President of corporate communications at CIGNA as well as a former journalist, Wendell Potter is in a unique position to expose the practices of the medical insurance industry and the work that
This turned out to be a David vs. Goliath story: Journalism vs. Public relations, "crisis management", and greed. I really don't like being lied to or manipulated by half truths, innuendo, and fear tactics. So this was a very upsetting book even though I suspected that this was what was going on. The author states, "Without basic knowledge of PR tactics and the ability to distinguish between fact and distortion, Americans- and that includes journalists, both professional and "citizen"-are at the ...more
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Wendell Potter is the senior fellow on health care at the Center for Media and Democracy. He has appeared on countless television and radio programs and has been quoted in newspapers and magazines across the country. Prior to his twenty-five-year career in public relations, he was a journalist for the Memphis Press-Scimitar and Scripps Howard news service.
More about Wendell Potter...
Obamacare: What's in It for Me?: What Everyone Needs to Know About the Affordable Care Act Deadly Spin (Library Edition): An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR Is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans

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