Oldroses's Reviews > Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR Is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans

Deadly Spin by Wendell Potter
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Dec 02, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: first-reads, politics
Read from November 16 to 25, 2010 — I own a copy

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 firms that first took away our retirement savings and then our jobs.

I worked in the financial industry for 25 years. Nothing I saw there was as heinous as what is revealed in this book. Put simply, Wall Street may take away people’s money, but health insurance companies take away people’s lives.

Author Wendell Potter was an insurance company executive, heading up a PR department. For years, he participated in the shameless pursuit of profits over lives until he finally came face to face with the effects on real people of what he was doing. Visiting a clinic set up on a fair ground offering free health care to those who had no insurance and no means to pay for health care, he saw ordinary hardworking people reduced to being treated in animal stalls.

He has written about his experience in the health insurance industry, as well as his epiphany, in a straightforward manner, making it more powerful than if he had penned an hysterical screed. He takes us, step by step through the changes in the health insurance industry from a privately held companies offering true health insurance to the modern publicly owned companies whose focus is on profits rather than health.

The lengths to which health insurers go and the collusions in which they participate are extraordinary. They routinely deny coverage to people who need it and drop coverage of people who become ill. They hire outside PR firms who form bogus grassroots groups who lobby in favor of health insurers. They provide statistics to back up all of their false claims that any kind of healthcare reform is bad.

Potter devotes an entire chapter to revealing how health insurers torpedoed Healthcare Reform using all of the dirty tricks he had discussed in previous chapters. The reason we have no public option is because it would put the health insurance industry out of business prompting them to wage all-out war against it.

It took the death of a child who was denied a liver transplant to convince Potter to leave his job with CIGNA. He devotes his time now to healthcare reform advocacy and as a health insurance critic. He testified during the healthcare reform debates, but obviously not enough people listened to him.

In my opinion, this book should be required reading for every member of Congress. They need to know how they have been bribed and manipulated by the health insurers to do what’s best for the health insurance industry instead of what is best for the people who elected them to office.
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