Myth and Manipulation

Combating Misinformation

“An Arm and a Leg” is a podcast produced by Kaiser Health News and Public Road Productions. Often they combat misinformation regarding health care. In one episode, former health care executive Wendell Potter talks about his transformation from health care executive to health care whistleblower. Here’s a transcript of the episode.

Potter spent 2020 publishing high-profile apologies for the work he used to do. He told lies to the American people for his old employers. The health care industry paid him well. These days, he’s trying to debunk the myths he once sold.

“What I used to do for a living was mislead people into thinking that we had the best health care system in the world,” Potter said.

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Manipulating the System

The New York Times had an interesting article about how hospitals refuse to bill insurance companies to increase profits. Hospitals use outside debt collection companies to investigate recent accidents to identify patients so they can pursue liens against them. The hospitals attempt to place a “lien” on any potential future settlement. Such liens can hurt patients’ credit scores leaving them unable to pay for needed follow-up care.

Eventually, the hospital sues victims of negligence and neglect to pursue amounts five or ten times higher than insurance rates. Hospitals collect on money that otherwise would have gone to the patient to compensate for lost wages, permanent damages, impairment, and pain and suffering.

The practice of bypassing insurers to pursue full charges from accident victims’ settlements has become routine. It is most lucrative when used against patients with Medicaid or Medicare.

Hospitals have increasingly sued patients’ for alleged unpaid bills, even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Hospitals received significant taxpayer funded bailouts last year but still garnished patients’ wages and took their homes.