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More healthcare corruption facts:

Otis Brawley wrote, “After dispassionate analysis is completed and all the facts are laid bare on the table, emotion can rule. Forget subtlety, forget decorum, forget dogma, loyalties, niceties, sacred cows.” He learned this idea in Jesuit school. It may be time for you to get angry as well.

BASICS OF LARGE NUMBERS and how to understand the numbers in my book: A million seconds (1,000,000) is 12 days. A billion seconds (1,000,000,000) is 31 years. A trillion seconds (1,000,000,000,000) is 31,688 years


Donald Light (Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics) reports a one in five chance of severe problems after the FDA approves a medication. The newer drugs are typically little or no improvement over the older ones. Michael Carome, MD, of the Ralph Nader watchdog group Public Citizen, says that toxic effects are mainly because of drugs taken as prescribed.

NOTES: insurance companies. In Deadly Spin (2010), Wendell Potter, an insurance company public relations representative, confirms my book's story about these corporations and more. He describes his industry as “a cartel of large, for profit corporations which are corrupt and deadly.” He said that, like the pharmaceutical companies, they “create wholly-funded front groups as shills in a secret fear-mongering campaign [to] disseminate misinformation and lies, with the sole intent of killing any reform that might hinder profits.”

These companies routinely eliminate enrollees when they become a drain on profits. One technique they use is to cancel clients retrospectively by claiming they lied on their original insurance application. There is an example cited where three insurers got rid of nearly 20,000 people when they were undergoing expensive care.

The insurance companies routinely jack up premiums and shift costs onto their policyholders. They write limited policies that have the effect of eliminating most of the coverage. They also purge small businesses that have too many expenses. They deny claims. They push patients out of the hospital early.

This generates stunning profits; in 2009, the industry made billions at a time when the rest of the country was in recession. Many of the CEOs make $10 million a year.

A decade ago, I took the insurance broker class, passed the test, and I was licensed for a year. (I was briefly involved in a startup medical malpractice insurance company.) During my training, I learned that insurance contacts seemed almost solely designed to protect the companies and avoid covering risks. Exclusions in homeowner's insurance such as for arson and flood cut down what the companies are responsible for, and the fine print makes coverage is even more limited. The companies always prefer to insure for less than the entire replacement value of a loss, fearing that there might be incentives to destroy property and get reimbursed.

To understand the players involved and how health insurance worked, I had help from a mid-level insurance executive. His job is to keep providers from devouring his company’s profits altogether. One of his functions is to negotiate California hospitals’ fee increases. Like the other big players in healthcare, they try for a 15 percent raise every single year.

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