Saturday :: Jul 7, 2007

Health Insurance Companies React to Sicko


by Mary

Michael Moore posted an assessment from a Blue Cross executive who had seen Sicko about how damaging it would be to the health insurance industry. Bottom line assessment?

You would have to be dead to be unaffected by Moore's movie, he is an effective storyteller.

But, boy, was Moore unfair to the health insurance industry, because, he didn't even give them a chance to tell their side of the story and then he played dirty pool by not making it clear that there were big differences between the for-profit insurance companies and the non-profit companies. Even worse, he cherry-picked all the "exceptions" and then totally blew through the ordinary gatekeepers to talk directly to the American public.

As a health care industry educated viewer it is easy to pick out where Moore is cultivating misperceptions to further a political agenda, but you will also recognize that 80%+ of the audience will have their perceptions substantially affected. In demonstration of its impact, an informal discussion group ensued outside the theatre after the movie. While some people recognized how onesided the presentation was, most were incredulous and "I didn't know they (the insurers) did that!" was a common exclamation followed by a discussion of the example.

The unfortunate reality for Capital BlueCross is that as the market leader, we will be affected both in brand and as employees as Moore's efforts in the movie and surrounding PR activity are seen by more of the community. The impact on industry savvy Sales' contacts should be minimal, while the impact on small business decision makers, our members, the community, and our employees could be significant.

Damn, that's bad. Even worse, the wording that has been used for years to run the business has been compromised by that damn film.

Word and phrases we have routinely used to date in policy change communications or denial letters, such as "Investigational", will be seen as affirming the film's contentions. The national BCBSA response - while coming out against the film's divisiveness and focusing on the positive work of the Blues - steers media inquiries about policies and denials back to the plans themselves.

And even worse, Moore is so unfair in saying it is so much better in other countries because that's just not realistic and besides, it's un-American. As this executive says:

As a viewer, you are made to feel ashamed to be an American, a capitalist, and part of a 'me' society instead of a 'we' society - and the lack of universal health care is held up in support of that condemnation.

Well, I guess we should be ashamed to impugn the motives of the Blue Cross-Blue Shield company. They, of course, have been doing all they can to make sure people get good coverage (in a market that is driven by the rush to the bottom - bottom-line that is) including spending huge amounts of money making sure everyone is covered, using BCBSA lobbying dollars to insist the congress regulate their competitors so it isn't such a dog-eat-dog world and making sure their CEO goes without a bonus every year people don't get the care they paid for because Blue Cross/Blue Shield are interested in doing the right thing, not just the profitable thing. After all, that's why they got into the health insurance industry, right? Oh wait. I guess not.

Seriously, the motives of the health insurance industry shouldn't even be at issue. The only thing that should be at issue is, can we and should we cover everyone? My answer is yes - so how do we do this in a way that doesn't waste our tax dollars?

Bottom-line for progressives: now is the time to change a system that is deeply compromised by greed and waste, by realizing that insurance companies can't make a profit if they cover sick people, and the fact that our country made a bad choice thinking that an employer-based health care insurance could be an effective replacement for universal health care. Ask your congressmember to sponsor HR 676 (Medicare for all). It can be simple, cheap and effective. Seems like an idea that is waiting to happen.

Aside: even Blue Cross/Blue Shield thinks Humana is an awful company who has done crappy things (like giving doctors bonuses for the highest number of denials) - what has BCBSA done to fight against that?

Mary :: 1:00 AM :: Comments (15) :: Digg It!