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AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan Gonzalez.
A major investigation by The New York Times this weekend has found many of the nation’s largest health insurance companies have made billions of dollars in profits by exploiting the government’s Medicare Advantage program. Eight of the 10 largest Medicare Advantage providers have overbilled the government. Six of the 10 have been accused of fraud by the government or company whistleblowers.
This comes as the number of people enrolled in the privatized system continue to grow. Projections show that by next year more than half of all Medicare beneficiaries will be enrolled in a private plan.
Under the system, health insurers get more government funding for sicker patients, which has given the companies an incentive to make patients appear more ill than they actually are. UnitedHealth, Humana, Kaiser and other health insurance companies have been sued for fraud for overdiagnosing patients to bump up profits. The cost to taxpayers is staggering. Overbilling by health insurance costs the government an estimated $12 billion to $25 billion in 2020. The New York Times reports doctors at Kaiser were offered bottles of Champagne and bonuses if they added additional illnesses to the medical records of their patients so the company could make more money.
Joining us now is Wendell Potter, former executive for the health insurance companies CIGNA and Humana. Potter is now the president of the Center for Health and Democracy and the president of Business Leaders for Health Care Transformation. He’s author of the book Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR Is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans.
Welcome back to Democracy Now!, Wendell, joining us from