Comparison shopping for a health plan

By Wendell Potter

California makes it easy to do your homework.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Health":

"… plans, you can go to Healthcare.gov, maintained by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or a private online source like Healthinsurance.org, w …"

"… patient experience. They were followed by Blue Shield of California, Sharp Health Plan (in greater San Diego), and Western Health Advantage (in the Sacramen …"

"… hield of California, Sharp Health Plan (in greater San Diego), and Western Health Advantage (in the Sacramento area). All of those plans are also nonprofits …"

"… ts. The plans with the fewest stars were Aetna, Anthem Blue Cross, Cigna, Health Net and UnitedHealthcare of California, all for-profit companies. Convers …"

Health insurers turning into who knows what?

By Wendell Potter

Commentary: health insurers are transforming themselves — but into what?

Excerpts from this story referencing "Aetna":

"… t was enacted. We tend to think that insurers with well-known brands like Aetna, Blue Cross, Cigna and UnitedHealthcare have been around forever and likel …"

"… ne of the world’s largest multi-line insurance companies. Its peers were Aetna — which initially was just a life insurer — MetLife, Prudential and Tr …"

"… MetLife, Prudential and Travelers all sold their health care business and Aetna and Cigna decided to get out of the property and casualty business to focu …"

"… Humana says its primary focus “is on the well-being of its members.” Aetna says it is “transforming health care to create healthier communities, a …"

Taking insurance companies out of health care

By Wendell Potter

If Boeing experiment flies, health care system could be transformed.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Health insurance":

"… and even to hospitals that are looking to operate their own health plans. Health insurance in this country was initially provider-based and community-rated. The firs …"

Skyrocketing salaries for health insurance CEOs

By Wendell Potter

Commentary: soaring compensation, rising stock prices don't justify higher premiums.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Health":

"… they can hike premiums high enough to satisfy shareholders. According to Health Plan Week, a trade publication, the CEOs of the 11 largest for-profit comp …"

"… y were this time last year. Of those 11 companies (Aetna, Centene, Cigna, Health Net, Humana, Molina, Triple-S Management Corp., UnitedHealth Group, Univer …"

"… ntene, Cigna, Health Net, Humana, Molina, Triple-S Management Corp., UnitedHealth Group, Universal American, Wellcare, and WellPoint) nine saw their stocks …"

"…  of big Health insurance companies make. Unless you subscribe to Health Plan Week, it’s not likely you will stumble across their salaries. Nor i …"

Health insurers have their way with regulators

By Fred Schulte

Billions in Medicare Advantage overpayments likely gone for good.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Health":

"… s having serious heart disease.  It took years for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) inspector general to publish those findings, and …"

"… ing errors tied to a complex payment formula known as a “risk score.” Health plans collect medical data that is used to compute the Health risks for ea …"

"… and secretive that it remains unfathomable to many Health professionals. Health plans that cheat can face civil or criminal penalties, but federal officia …"

"… Advantage contracts, records show.  CMS is but one part of the giant Health and Human Services Department. The HHS Office of Inspector General is supp …"

Tobacco money fuels gay Republicans, business organizations

By Michael Beckel

Reynolds American gave thousands of dollars to politically active nonprofits such as the Log Cabin Republicans, Americans for Prosperity.

Excerpts from this story referencing "North Carolina":

"… eased by the company and reviewed by the Center for Public Integrity. The North Carolina-based company donated $4,000 to the Koch-supported Americans for Prosperit …"

"… contributed at least $550,000 last year to trade associations, such as the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Tobacco Outlets and the Bodeg …"

"… hich has backed Republicans in state-level elections; $50,000 to the Renew North Carolina Foundation, an organization formed by allies of the state’s Republican g …"

"… conservative group has continued to assail vulnerable Democrats, including North Carolina’s incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan, who is seeking re-election to a second term …"

Keeping an eye on insurance companies that refuse to pay claims

By Wendell Potter

Commentary: Arizona case resolved after victim became a 'squeaky wheel'

Excerpts from this story referencing "media attention":

"… ote to tell me how outraged they were to hear that had it not been for the media attention, Cliff Faraci, called a good Samaritan for trying to save the life of a 19 …"

What's the point, WellPoint?

By Wendell Potter

Commentary: insurer's talk of rate increases may boomerang.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Humana":

"… r. No other company seemed the least bit interested in making predictions. Humana declined to comment. An Aetna spokeswoman was quoted as saying only that, …"

Dizzying array of options in Obamacare can lead to expensive mistakes

By Wendell Potter

Commentary: Health insurers offer a wide range of plans on exchanges, customers should pay attention to the details.

Excerpts from this story referencing "advocate":

"… her money over the Aetna plan she had last year. Donna is just as much an advocate for a single-payer system as she ever was, but she believes the Affordable …"

Retailers band together to fight health reform law

By Erin Quinn

Companies, trade groups band together to lobby on issues of common interest.

Excerpts from this story referencing "FedEx":

"… ress, Bank of America, Conde Nast, the Envelope Manufacturers Association, FedEx, the National Retail Federation, the Newspaper Association of America and …"

GOP governors group dwarfs Democrats in fundraising

By Ben Wieder and John Dunbar

This year features 36 governors' races; Republicans enter with a big fundraising advantage over Democrats.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Mississippi":

"… at year by the RGA, which took in $87 million under the leadership of then-Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour. Update, Jan. 30, 2014, 7:25 p.m.: This story has been …"

Fighting over Aetna's disclosure

By Wendell Potter

Commentary: good government group alleges insurer isn't coming clean on political spending.

Excerpts from this story referencing "spokeswoman":

"… ndustry. “We intend to vigorously defend against this lawsuit,” Aetna spokeswoman Cynthia Michener was quoted as telling the CT Mirror. “Aetna meets or ex …"

Beginning of the end for major health insurers

By Wendell Potter

Kickoff of new law will expose irrelevance of big insurers.

Excerpts from this story referencing "insurance market":

"… ll inevitably occur when the switch is flipped and the long-awaited health insurance marketplaces (also called exchanges) finally go live. Yes, there will be technol …"

Unions chafing at Obamacare provisions

By Wendell Potter

Labor leaders say big business was mollified at their expense.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Aetna":

"… y months of the Obama administration were corporate executives like former Aetna CEO Ron Williams and the chief lobbyists of the American Hospital Associat …"

The fiction of Obamacare 'rate shock'

By Wendell Potter

Scare tactics aside, Obamacare rates will be lower for many.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Aetna":

"… l the rage several months ago, like this one from Forbes last December: “Aetna CEO (Mark) Bertolini: Get ready for ‘Rate Shock’ as Some Insurance Pre …"

"… icies on the marketplaces, not what they actually would be able to charge. Aetna, for example, might have liked to be able to charge $500 a month for a cer …"

OPINION: a brave new world for health insurance

By Wendell Potter

ObamaCare's exchanges are attracting innovators, not old-line companies.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Aetna":

"… insurance marketplaces, which will go online October 1, as opportunities. Aetna, Cigna and UnitedHealthcare have all said they will be participating in on …"

"… t believe me? Well just look at history. The big five “insurers” — Aetna, Cigna, Humana, UnitedHealth and WellPoint — have all changed radically …"

"… oined Cigna in 1993, it was a big multi-line insurance corporation, as was Aetna. Both had big property and casualty and financial services divisions. Unde …"

"… rers at the time were Prudential, which sold its health care operations to Aetna in 1999, and Travelers and MetLife, whose health care businesses are now p …"

OPINION: insurance tricks to avoid ObamaCare's consumer protections

By Wendell Potter

Firms pushing early renewals to avoid ObamaCare protections

Excerpts from this story referencing "Aetna":

"… rance companies.    I first heard about this several weeks ago. Aetna had been encouraging some of its small business customers —whose policie …"

"… instead of January. By taking advantage of this one-time-only offer, those Aetna customers will be able to delay complying with the law—and providing new …"

"… it. I’ve heard from consumer advocates that many insurers are following Aetna’s lead. They’re sending letters to customers—at least to the ones wi …"

OPINION: putting big health insurers in their place

By Wendell Potter

New exchanges are better off without the big insurers.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Cigna":

"… se, like other big national insurers — most notably UnitedHealthcare and Cigna — it prefers to sell coverage to employers, not individuals. So Aetna’ …"

"… rrangement, the employer pays a substantial fee to a company like Aetna or Cigna to negotiate contracts with doctors and hospitals and make decisions about …"

"… y is Aetna passing on the California exchange, so are UnitedHealthcare and Cigna. And it’s not just California. These big firms have decided to participa …"

Lobbying firm PACs start 2013 slow

By Dave Levinthal

Few raising or spending big money early in 2013 — if at all.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Comcast":

"… 's long lobbying client list includes broadcaster Al Jazeera America, Comcast, drugmaker Merck, the PGA Tour, defense contractor Raytheon and ZTE USA, t …"

OPINION: a cynical search for loopholes

By Wendell Potter

Insurers find ways to avoid 'essential benefits'.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Supreme Court":

"… rom bankruptcy," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in response to the Supreme Court's decision last June upholding the constitutionality of the law. But as r …"

OPINION: Vermont law illuminates claims statistics

By Wendell Potter

Vermont law illuminates disparities among health insurers

Excerpts from this story referencing "Cigna":

"… health insurers — Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont, MVP Health Care and Cigna, the company I used to work for. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont is by …"

"… e based in the Green Mountain State. MVP is headquartered in New York, and Cigna, the for-profit company among the three, is based in Connecticut.  W …"

"… t company, as I did, you would be right. But even I was shocked to see how Cigna compared with its competitors, especially Blue Cross. Of all the claims s …"

"… by health care providers and policyholders, Blue Cross denied 7.6 percent. Cigna denied 21 percent. MVP was in the middle at 15.5 percent. Since Vermont i …"

OPINION: 'limited benefit' plans are no real bargain

By Wendell Potter

Plans with modest premiums provide no real coverage

Excerpts from this story referencing "Cigna":

"… s that have made millions of dollars in profits from such plans, including Cigna, where I used to work, will no longer be able to sell them, thanks to the …"

OPINION: taking advantage of Medicare Advantage

By Wendell Potter

Feds have been overpaying for Medicare Advantage.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Aetna":

"… than 100,000 seniors, after the government adjusted payments to insurers. Aetna and a number of others insurers dumped thousands more. Shareholders were n …"

Lobbyist PACs hurting for cash following election

By Dave Levinthal

Political cash machines of many top government affairs shops see a slow start to 2014 election cycle.

Excerpts from this story referencing "General Electric":

"… cent clients include AT&T, Citigroup, Delta Airlines, Facebook, FedEx, General Electric, Goldman Sachs, the Lance Armstrong Foundation, National Association of Br …"

RGA, DGA reap riches from corporate donors

By Michael Beckel

RGA, DGA reap riches from corporate donors.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Aetna":

"… nnsylvania, gave $250,000 to the RGA, as did health insurance company Aetna. Meanwhile, the Florida Power and Light and Comcast each donated&nbs …"

"… ve made six-figure contributions to the DGA since late November: Aetna-subsidiary Schaller Anderson, which gave $250,000; computer technology com …"

OPINION: insurance scare tactics

By Wendell Potter

Insurers are warning of 'premium shock' in hopes of removing protections from ObamaCare

Excerpts from this story referencing "Cigna":

"… and caps on covered benefits.  Big insurance companies like Aetna and Cigna are not at all happy about that because they make millions selling policie …"

"… onger be able to refuse to cover preexisting conditions.Not to be outdone, Cigna in 2006 paid $175 million to buy Star HRG to compete with Aetna in the lim …"

"… to compete with Aetna in the limited-benefits marketplace.  Aetna and Cigna and the other companies that sell limited benefit plans want to protect th …"

'Fiscal cliff' ads target candidates in 2014

By Rachael Marcus

Rove-affiliated nonprofit runs 'fiscal cliff' ads targeting vulnerable Senate Democrats.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Chris Fleming":

"… revenue increases.Both were “significant six-figure buys” according to Chris Fleming, an AFSCME spokesman.Safety net programs have become the major focus for t …"

Mystery firm is election's top corporate donor at $5.3 million

By Michael Beckel and Reity O'Brien

Supreme Court decision paves way for $75 million in corporate donations to super PACs.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Contran Corp.":

"… r-known brother of conservative industrialists David and Charles Koch, and Contran Corp., the business of Republican super donor Harold Simmons of Texas, have both …"

Nonprofits, shell corporations help shield identity of ad backers

By Russ Choma

Underwriters of attack ads can easily avoid being named.

Excerpts from this story referencing "energy policy":

"… d for nearly $800,000 in radio ads targeting President Barack Obama on his energy policy and the funds came thanks to a donation from Las Vegas casino titan Sheldo …"

OPINION: Who wins with Medicare Advantage?

By Wendell Potter

Medicare Advantage plans are profit centers for private insurance companies because of government incentives to participate.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Humana":

"… years, the largest insurers — Unitedhealth, WellPoint, Aetna, Cigna and Humana — have reported record profits, even during the quarters when enrollment …"

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