For what doth it profit a CEO
Friday August 21st 2009, 9:10 pm
Filed under: Politics

I’ve been trying to be an informed voter and have been spending a fair amount of time trying to learn more about our current health-care system.  All facts and figures here via Google.

In California, Blue Cross was allowed to be changed from being a not-for-profit to being for-profit in the 90’s, with a domino effect on other states.  Blue Cross covers roughly one in seven people in California.

As an aside, from North Carolina we read this from three years ago, with more recent figures hard to find online somehow:

“Aetna CEO John Rowe had total compensation of $30.6 million and Cigna CEO H. Edward Hanway received $12.3 million. That includes millions of dollars in stock compensation. Meanwhile, the president of Cigna HealthCare of North Carolina made a total of $279,526 last year.”

You catch that?  $279, 526.  Go Cigna!  So much for the idea of needing to pay millions to attract top talent.  Larry Glasscock, BBA Cleveland State, graduate school NA, was CEO in ’06 of Wellpoint, which owns Blue Cross in California and a dozen other states. According to this, his total compensation that year was $52.4 million.

My daughter’s premiums, had Blue Cross accepted her, would have been $133/month as a young single woman for a plan without maternity benefits. Let’s round that up to an even $1600/year.

Let’s picture, for a moment, how many people would have to pay that premium for one year while requiring absolutely zero in medical pay-out, in order to sustain just that one CEO salary.  Just for that one executive.

Three million, two hundred seventy-five thousand people.  Paying that premium faithfully, month by month, and not going to the doctor once. Not even getting so much as one flu shot in 12 months.  Over three and a quarter million people.

And the CEO’s claim their pay has no influence on the medical care of their subscribers.

As for the town hall talking points and the obscenely defaced pictures of our President that are beneath each and every one of us, the screaming and the shouting, the attempts to silence all discussion of changing any part of this system–

–Remember the Watergate line.

“Follow the money.”

‘Cause there’s a whole lot of it (that’s for lobbying in 2009, so far) that sure isn’t being spent on taking care of us.

17 Comments so far
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Wow, that is astonishing. What good research.

Comment by StellaMM 08.22.09 @ 12:57 am

I heard an interview with former CIGNA PR exec Wendell Potter who claims the health insurance industry endeavors to reduce costs at the expense of the insured. Wall Street demands ever increasing profits.

Comment by RobinM 08.22.09 @ 4:08 am

And so I think if we healthy folks terminate our policies and request our employers give us cash instead of insurnace, we might get the notice of all of these highly paid CEO’s. In Tennessee, we have co-op’s, notably TN Farm Bureau, where for a $25 membership, one can buy reasonable health insurance through Blue Cross/Blue Shield which is still non-profit in TN. These people must be stopped. My health is not for sale!

Comment by Judy 08.22.09 @ 4:52 am

It is why high priced docs, the Republican party and the AMA are in such a spin at the thought of redoing the whole health care system.
For all those who would get basic care, there are those who would not get profits.
Having worked in the US private sector, Germany, UK and the US military… NHS system with tort reform to stop the legal issues and focus on quality of care (not cost containment for profit) is the way to go.

Comment by Holly 08.22.09 @ 5:16 am

Preach it, sistah!

Comment by Barbara-Kay 08.22.09 @ 6:00 am

I am so confused over this issue and I am sure we will end up with a patchwork of a bill that is totally ineffective. I don’t even understand it well enough to ask an intelligent question. I do think that those of us who are old, on Medicare, with a supplemental insurance policy, are much better off than young people with families. My 4 hours in the hospital recently caused a $12,000 bill and it does seem ridiculous–no wonder the hospitals can afford to keep expanding and getting fancier–it reminds me of the casinos in Las Vegas. They did not get so wealthy by giving a sucker an even break.

Comment by sherry in idaho 08.22.09 @ 7:28 am

This is excellent, Alison, thank you!

Comment by Pegi 08.22.09 @ 8:49 am

I watched that interview with Wendell Potter and I couldn’t help thinking, after he explained how Wall Street controls the health insurance companies by demanding they make a profit and comes down on them if their profit margin slips by a fraction – is this any different from how Bernard Madoff stole from all those “supposed” clients of his? He took their money, promised one thing (return on their investments) and really used the money to line his pockets. Hello? The health insurance companies are promising consumers and employers health coverage and then denying claims and dropping members for illnesses so they can line their pockets with money!! Legal theft?

I agree, it is a huge problem for President Obama to tackle. In that same interview, we saw people who were employed by, or lobbyists for, the insurance industry “charming” the President at his town meeting, playing it up as if they are for reform, only to come back later and discredit the plans. How our President is to find the people he can trust and weed through all this to get Americans the health coverage they deserve is beyond my scope of knowledge, but we must pay attention and protest the practices that are in place now!

Judy’s idea is a good one and if people took a stand like that, maybe the CEOs and high execs of these companies would start feeling the pain that the average, under-insured or uninsured American feels!

Comment by Cathy (catsandyarn on ravelry) 08.22.09 @ 9:28 am

I agree with Sherry – we oldsters on Medicare plus the supplemental are reasonably well off. That’s Medicare, a government run entity, that runs pretty smoothly, at least for me.

We definitely need something funny:

Seen in Newspapers:

Used cars: why go elsewhere to be cheated. Come here first.

Christmas tag-sale. Handmade gifts for the hard-to-find person.

Wanted: hair cutter. Excellent growth potential.

Wanted: man to take care of cow that does not smoke or drink.

Our bikinis are exciting. They are simply the tops.

Wanted. Widower with school age children requires person to assume general housekeeping duties. Must be capable of contributing to growth of family.

And now, the Superstore-unequaled in size, unmatched in variety, unrivaled inconvenience.

We will oil your sewing machine and adjust tension in your home for $1.00.

And then there are those mistakes found in the main sections of newspapers that raise a laugh. Here are just some:

The sunbather watched the soaring seagulls wearing a striped bikini.

We sold the vacuum cleaner to a young woman with the cord in the rear.

He told her that he wanted to marry her frequently.

The politician met informally to discuss food prices and the high cost of living with several women.

Comment by Don Meyer 08.22.09 @ 10:16 am

I never cease to be amazed by the American health care system. Here in Canada we complain a lot about our publicly funded health care, but no one has to do without care because of their financial state, no patient has to endure financial hardship in order to have necessary surgery, and no one is refused insurance coverage by the government. True, wait times can be an issue, obviously our system is far from perfect, and many of us have supplementary private insurance – but at least our government plan isn’t based on corporate profit margins. Whenever I hear things such as your post today, Alison, I feel a wave of gratitude for what we have up here. Good luck to your President in his efforts!

Comment by Ruth Martin 08.22.09 @ 10:40 am

My late husband spent 35 years in the insurance business and for the last 30 years of his employment, he frequently stated that the U.S. needs a publicly funded health plan.

What made me laugh out loud was the old guy at one of the town hollering that the government needed to keep its hands off his Medicare. (Hello?) I suppose he also wants the government to stay out of his social security!

On the other hand, ANYTHING would be better than what we have now!

Comment by Abby 08.22.09 @ 1:16 pm

It’s a mess.
I am so glad for Oscar’s insurance.

Comment by Diana Troldahl 08.22.09 @ 1:22 pm

Alison, I need to read your post more closely when I have time tomorrow. However, I must comment about the BC/BS CEO from R.I. who was taking money from the company, supporting his mistress and purchased her an oceanfront home. Big scandal and I will look that one up again also.

It is a crime, a terrible crime regarding the antics that these companies are doing…..more later.

Comment by Joansie 08.22.09 @ 2:09 pm

Well said! And honestly- a lot of these young people who are not covered now will not cost the system much at all. After I got out of college, I got a job with decent insurance, and for *11 years* I paid premiums and only once saw a medical doctor. (Eye care, dentist, yeah, medical no. I was lazy. Also fortunate enough to be healthy. The one doctor visit was for a tetanus shot.)

I can only read so much about the healthcare debate at one sitting, however, because the rampant greed and the bald-faced lies about the reform proposals make me absolutely livid.

Comment by RobinH 08.22.09 @ 7:14 pm

It’s obscene. It really is. And what I don’t get is that so many people are drinking the KoolAid. But I guess if you spend that much money on lobbying against things, you can twist the truth any way you want to.

Comment by Lene 08.22.09 @ 8:18 pm

love this rant and you are absolutely right!

especially find it interesting that many of the folks attending those meeting, yelling “no government in health care” are wearing t-shirts that say “don’t touch my medicare” HUH?

Comment by Bev 08.23.09 @ 8:58 am

I don’t understand mega-million salaries. Not for athletes, entertainers, and certainly not for CEOs of a poorly managed business.

Comment by Channon 08.23.09 @ 9:41 am

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