Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Health insurance profits turn the stomach

Cigna insurance subscriber Jo Joshua Godfrey was having problems breathing. In over two years she visited her "in-network” Cigna medical providers more than a dozen times, never finding relief from her symptoms. The physicians assistants that she saw, not doctors, told her she had bronchitis and sent her home with prescriptions that didn't help.

When out of desperation she finally took her medical records to an "out-of-network" physician, he immediately told her that she had lung cancer and that the cancer was obvious on her X-rays from the very start.

By ignoring Jo’s cancer, Cigna’s employees saved their company around $125,000. Ignoring Jo’s cancer also almost cost Jo her life and gave her two years of suffering.

Why are we trying to protect this immoral health care system? Should Wall Street profit be the number one concern of the insurance companies that we depend on for our health, our lives?

Jo’s story is part of Brave New Films latest effort to “create a just America” by using new media and Internet video campaigns. Its newest video, Sick for Profit, tells Jo’s story and many others. I encourage you to watch it. The stories are both disturbing and galling. After watching Sick for Profit, I have to wonder if most Americans feel that the free market and making a profit are more important than protecting human life?

The answer seems obvious to me. No.

Some people are afraid of the bureaucracy that a government-run health care plan would create, but what we have now are insurance company bureaucracies that choose profits over good medicine.

At 2:30 p.m. this afternoon, hundreds of people will rally outside Cigna’s office in downtown Seattle to protest Cigna’s opposition to a public insurance option and call for quick action to pass legislation ensuring access to affordable health care for all Americans. Jo Joshua Godfrey will be there. If it were up to Cigna, she wouldn’t be here at all today.


Blogger David said...

Your implication that Cigna purposefully withheld healthcare is a serious one. If they are guilty they should be held accountable. Even if it was an accident then they should still be held accountable. The family of Jo Joshua Godfrey should be able to sue Cigna and I suspect they would receive a large settlement.

On the flip side I am not convinced that a government run system will improve the situation. Medical mistakes and malfeasance will still happen, except patients will be unable to sue the government for settlements as recompense. At least that is what has happened in countries with government run health. Also, the rationing created by government run health care causes cancer mortality rates to jump as people become unable to receive the timely care they need. I recognize the good intentions of a government run system, but I am convinced that such a system will create a net loss for society.

September 15, 2009 6:17 PM  
Blogger Martha Koester said...

Under a single payer system, people who are victims of medical mistakes will have no need to sue, as they are guaranteed to have any further necessary care paid for.

Who are you trying to kid about rationing? Insurance companies ration care for profit right now. Our mortality rates at all ages are inferior to those of other developed countries with guauranteed universal health care.

Haven't you been listening to elderly teabaggers? They want reformers to stay the hell AWAY from their Medicare, which just happens to be a government-run single payer system for those over 65.

September 15, 2009 10:09 PM  
Blogger David said...

My point was that government run health care would create a net loss for society. There are as many as 40 million uninsured Americans. If we suddenly introduce them to the current medical system the result will be that there are not enough doctors and nurses to handle the volume. The subsequent rationing experienced under such a system will hurt the quality of health care for the majority of society. Nations with national health coverage experience this problem. As Winston Churchill magnificently put it, "The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries."

Medicare, by the way, is going bankrupt. Perhaps a sign of things to come under government run health care. Also, countries with government run health care are hardly responsible for new medical innovations. The United States is the lone innovator. This too will pass away under a national system and another reason why I believe it is a net loss for our country.

September 16, 2009 1:53 PM  
Blogger charles said...

Well said David. To make this a Republican / Democratic issue is to over-simplify it. Web sites like this can be used to force reform with-in the industry. Changing current Federal Regulations to allow Americans more choice in the free-market will drive quality and inovation. Removing a few companies that monopolize the industry and replacing them with one-monopoly is not the answer. Allowing the same governement that has mismanaged Social Security, Medicare and the Post-Office to run our health care is not the answer. To remove profit, removes the quest for efficiency.
I agree that the insurance industry is in a state of needed repair. There are much better ways to fix this beast than handing it over to the Federal Govt. Not to mention it is un-constitutional. If you wish to put your charity towards others healthcare, that is your perogative. This decision should reside with you, not the government. You are much better suited to determining who is in need or where your money will offer the most help. Some other points of note.
Negative experiences like those listed on this website can be found in other countries involving govt. run health care programs.
Many countries that boast about their socialized health care systems are operating in the red (way over budget). I liken this to bragging about your mansion while neglecting to mention the forclosure sign on the front door.
These same countries also decide which drugs / proceedures they can afford for you. Causing individuals in these countries to seek out care in the U.S.
The US's "corrupt" health care facilities, doctors, insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies have managed to provide the greatest medical and pharmaceutical innovations in the world. If these innovations are negative, then they can quickly be remedied thru a one-payer system.

September 19, 2009 9:03 AM  
Blogger gcrain said...

If you think the current system is salvagable you haven't been paying attention. It is rife with corruption at every level which is why they are afraid to compete with a government run system. Since when has the private sector been afraid to compete with the government? That should be a huge red flag for anybody. If you don't believe the patient's stories then look for the one by claims adjusters. There are plenty out there if you just look for them.

October 22, 2009 10:56 AM  
Blogger Ahavah Gayle said...

What are you, David and Charles, and insurance company employees? Where is some concrete data that other nations are "way in the red" with single-payer healthcare. Frontline just ran an hour documentary a few days ago proving otherwise. You can view it online at And sorry to tell you, but people are not dropping dead in the street in First World nations - only in America is that happening. America is no longer a first world nation precisely because the Robber Barons have stripped the economy bare. Nations that guarantee people's basic right ALL have higher life expectancies and lower infant mortality than the US - America is the only country that lets people die before their time due to greed. There is no such thing as bankruptcy due to medical care in First World nations, either. Health care should never be allowed to be a for profit business. And it's another lie to say no other countries innovate due to having non-profit healthcare systems. Tell that to Sweden, which has the largest biotech firms in Europe, and tell that to Japan, which has developed low cost cutting edge technology and made it available to everyone? Your worn out claims are just shills for fat cat CEOs who don't care that they are living it up on blood money. And "medical tourism" works both ways - sure, rich people come here for elective and cosmetic procedures (after all, we do excell at cosmetic surgery, since it's almost entirely for-profit). Meanwhile, people who need life-saving care here go to their homelands in Europe and Asia to avoid being denied treatment in America - yes, people go to places like Romania and Bulgaria to get AWAY from US for-profit healthcare. For one thing, they have higher life expectancies.

November 23, 2009 9:59 PM  

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