Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Health Insurance Executive Recalls a Life Changing Experience

The following story is from Wendell Potter, a recently retired senior health insurance executive. Mr. Potter describes the single event that led to his deep questioning of the role of insurance companies in the U.S. health care system. These comments were made to Bill Moyers on The Journal, aired on PBS July 10, 2009.


I just didn’t really get it all that much until toward the end of my tenure at CIGNA. . . . It really took a trip back home to Tennessee for me to see exactly what is happening to so many Americans. In July of 2007 I went home, to visit relatives. And I picked up a local newspaper and I saw that a health care fair was being held a few miles up the road in Wise, Virginia. I was intrigued and drove to the fair which was held at the Wise County Fairground. . . . It was raining that day, and I walked through the fairground gates. And I didn’t know what to expect. I just assumed that it would be, you know, like a health fair – booths set up and people just getting their blood pressure checked and things like that.

But what I saw were doctors who were set up to provide care in animal stalls. Or they’d erected tents, to care for people. I mean, there was no privacy. In some cases people were being treated on gurneys, on rain-soaked pavement.

And I saw people lined up, standing in line or sitting in these long, long lines, waiting to get care. People drove from South Carolina and Georgia, and Kentucky, Tennessee – all over the region, because they knew this was being done.

It was absolutely stunning. It was like being hit by lightning. It was almost – what country am I in? It just didn’t seem to be a possibility that I was in the United States.

1 comment:

  1. If South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee can't take care of their people, then a law should be passed for those four states.

    That was what was done with the Voting Rights Act of 1964 that still is in effect in southern states and approved by the Supreme Court this last session.