# United Healthcare

Waxman to turn spotlight on insurance industry

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman is ready to shine a light on the health insurance industry’s business practices, according to this piece by Bill Boyarsky at Truthdig:

Waxman has already begun by demanding that major insurance companies reveal how much they pay top executives and board members and, most important, the size of their profits from selling policies. […]

I asked Waxman whether he expected the insurance companies to reply to his letters. “Oh yes,” he said. “When we write letters, we expect to get answers.” And what was his purpose in seeking the information? At first, he was reluctant to discuss the investigation. Finally, he gave a guarded reply: that many folks perhaps take too benign a view of private insurance companies. […]

The letters from Waxman and his colleague, Bart Stupak, chairman of the House Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, went to every major insurance company, ranging from Aetna to Wellpoint. The lawmakers want to know the pay, stock options, perks, incentives, and retirement and other financial information of executives earning more than $500,000 a year. They are curious about the cost of promotional junkets. They are seeking disclosure of premiums, revenue, claims payments and sales expenses for health insurance policies. This includes sales to employers, individuals and the government. Interestingly, while insurance companies rail against the federal government, they earn money from participating in a number of federal programs, such as Medicare.

David Mizner has more on why this is important.

Speaking of insurance industry practices, Froma Harrop of the Providence Journal wrote a powerful column last week on the “death panel” her late husband faced from their insurance company, United Healthcare, after he was diagnosed with liver cancer.

A United Healthcare subsidiary owns the Lewin Group, which has been putting out so-called “non-partisan” research to discredit the idea of a public health insurance option.

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