Richer Healthcare Execs Is a Pill We Can’t Swallow

Date: October 5, 2009

OK, so maybe healthcare is not the funniest topic to arise out of 2009 – or the past two decades for that matter. But thank goodness for Hollywood (if only this once) for poking fun at the situation of healthcare reform. And you want to know what’s funny? They’ve made one of the most serious arguments for it.

A new video, featuring stars from Will Ferrell to Jon Hamm, delivers a well-orchestrated jab at the health insurance giants who are fighting tooth and nail against universal healthcare. The Protect Insurance Companies PSA will make you laugh, it will make you think, it might make you angry – and it just might make you cry.

With only the barest exaggeration, the PSA skewers fat-cat insurance executives who seem to have forgotten that the purpose of health insurance is to provide medical care to those who need it, not to issue denials and create exclusions so they can make a few more billion dollars each year.

The video, from MoveOn.org, starts with Will Ferrell calling for viewers to support the poor, beleaguered healthcare executives. Linda Cardellini announces, “These great businessmen are American heroes!” Ferrell then asks, “So why is Obama trying to reform healthcare when insurance companies are doing just fine making billions of dollars in profit?” Donald Faison chimes in, “Obama . . . why?”

The actors explain why insurance executives need our support, noting that insurance company CEOs have a right to the “American dream” – at least five houses, a private plane, $500 million in their pockets, and a mini-zoo in the backyard for exotic animals, “like a white tiger and pygmy horses.”

If your hearts are breaking for the poor insurance executives, just wait.

One actor portrays the selfish consumer, whining, “Please, my daughter is dying! She needs medication.” Another responds with the voice of reason: “Think about someone else for once.”

Now, if you can see through your tears for a moment, let’s look at the very unfunny thing that’s going on here.

We are in the middle of a high-pitched national debate on healthcare, but if you stop and think about it, who’s debating? Even though public support dropped recently fell sharply, according to a Zogby poll, almost 60% of Americans still support healthcare reform. Where is all the dissent coming from? You guessed it: insurance executives. Oh yeah, and the politicians who get money from them.

As personal injury attorneys, we know how healthcare costs can add up. When clients seek us out, they often have a pile of medical bills, sometimes with a total so high that very few of us would ever be able to make a dent in it.

We know what you’re probably thinking: Shouldn’t we be against universal healthcare? Funny you should ask. We think this country needs universal healthcare. Perhaps we are unlikely advocates. Most people have heard enough lawyer jokes to suspect that all lawyers are interested in is a big, fat fee.

But we’re not. We would rather not see the cases that come across our desks. Every case we get means another tragic accident. Another person hurt. Another person killed. It’s also another case in which people have to pay more – on top of the insurance they’ve already paid for – just to get the money the insurance company is supposed to have promised them. Unlike insurance executives, we believe healthcare is a fundamental human right. It is tragic that many in the healthcare field – a field centered on helping and compassion – have formed giant, money-hungry corporations whose primary purpose is to make more money. They’ve lost sight of their mission.

We’re not in this business to exploit other people’s misfortune. We’re here to ensure that those who need it most have someone on their side, fighting for them. We view our practice, first and foremost, as a way to help people, and to make sure that some of this world’s wrongs are righted.

So even though it might mean less work – and less money – for our firm, we wholeheartedly support healthcare for all. Please join us today in voicing support for a humane, affordable, and high-quality delivery system to provide needed health services to every citizen.

We’re serious.