I have, at times, been accused of following my heart instead of listening to the facts of a situation. Given this history, I determined that it was necessary to look into additional resources to see if my opinion of universal health care was fact or fiction. Below are some interesting and, frankly, disturbing facts about our current system.
First, a breakdown of the facts (information courtesy of Health Reform Watch):
Ins. Co. & CEO With 2007 Total CEO Compensation
- Aetna Ronald A. Williams: $23,045,834
- Cigna H. Edward Hanway: $25,839,777
- Coventry Dale B. Wolf : $14,869,823
- Health Net Jay M. Gellert: $3,686,230
- Humana Michael McCallister: $10,312,557
- U.Health Grp Stephen J. Hemsley: $13,164,529
- WellPoint Angela Braly (2007): $9,094,271
L. Glasscock (2006): $23,886,169
Ins. Co. & CEO With 2008 Total CEO Compensation
- Aetna, Ronald A. Williams: $24,300,112
- Cigna, H. Edward Hanway: $12,236,740
- Coventry, Dale Wolf: $9,047,469
- Health Net, Jay Gellert: $4,425,355
- Humana, Michael McCallister: $4,764,309
- U. Health Group, Stephen J. Hemsley: $3,241,042
- Wellpoint, Angela Braly: $9,844,212
Because Ronald A. Williams is clearly the most obvious target with his $1.2 million dollar raise from 07-08, let’s take a realistic look at the man who lost $13 million dollars, H. Edward Hanway of Cigna Health Insurance.
Even at the highest tax bracket (35% as can be seen here), Mr. Hanway still made approximately $8 million for 2008. This works out to $153k per week. Oh, and when he announced that he would be leaving, he received a small “thank you” in the amount of $73.2 million dollars for his efforts of delaying and denying claims over the past five years as head of Cigna. But, I digress…
As if those figures are not enough to send the gag reflex into overdrive, let’s consider part of how Mr. Hanway was paid. I am one of the very fortunate and very rare members of this society who still has 100% paid health insurance through my employer. So, I consulted another party on what he pays monthly for his health insurance. Mind you, he is part of a “nonprofit” health care program so these figures are not a direct reflection of what Cigna charges. In fact, I would venture to say that even more of his income would be going to his health coverage if it were Cigna.
After a bit of back and forth discussion and some very crude economic calculations, we determined that 30% of his potential salary was going towards his health insurance coverage. Mind you, this coverage also carries a $2k deductible and $30/visit co-pays which were not included in the analysis. What really brought it home for me is that he is, essentially, paying the likes of Mr. Hanway nearly a 1/3 of his entry-level salary in order to support the multi-million dollar lifestyles for these high power, greedy CEOs. This would mean, under a universal health system, his federal tax burden would need to be 45% of his income in order to equal what he is paying now for both his income tax, social security and health insurance premiums. 45%!!
What does one really do with $8 million dollars per year? I can’t even imagine what I would do with $8 million dollars in my lifetime. And let’s not forget that this was a salary cut for the man. And, to add insult to injury, Cigna announced in the beginning of ’09 that they were going to be cutting 4% of its workforce or 1100 jobs due to “tough economic times”. How about we just consider another paycut, Mr. Hanway? What about that nice $73.2 million dollars you’ll be walking away with? How many jobs could you have saved with that?
Who are these people and when did it get this bad? How much of my money is being used to lobby against my patient rights? Those figures are quite startling, as well.
Although I started off on this journey to confirm a hunch, it has evolved into an absolute fear about the system that many of us so blindly follow. Fear that is based on facts, not feelings or emotions or indigestion or whatever else the insurance industry would want you to believe. Perhaps the darkest side of this whole fucked up story is the fact that there has been such little information publicly released to make this whole health care debate laughable. We can’t even throw Sarah’s death panel comment back in her face as the industry has done a magnificent job of hiding its denied claims information from the public over the years!
Just read the facts, people. Put democracy to work by giving yourself a voice and an option – contact your elected officials and tell them that you deserve better than what the status quo has given us. As Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once said, “Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.”