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Wendell Potter
Wendell Potter is an author and strategic communications consultant. A former health insurance executive, Wendell left his job as head of communications for one of the nation's largest health insurers after a crisis of conscience.

In widely covered testimony before the Senate Commerce, Science and Technology Committee during the health care reform debate, Wendell disclosed how insurance companies, as part of their efforts to boost profits, engaged in practices that resulted in millions of Americans being forced into the ranks of the uninsured. He also described how the insurance industry had carried out deception-based communications plans over the years to defeat numerous health care reform initiatives at both the state and federal levels.

A former newspaper reporter, Wendell wrote for papers in Memphis and Nashville and later for Scripps-Howard news service, where he covered Congress, the White House and Supreme Court.

His new book, Nation on the Take, How Big Money Corrupts Democracy and What We Can Do About It, (Bloomsbury), will be published March 1, 2015.

His other books include Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR Is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans, and Obamacare: What's in It for Me: What Everyone Needs to Know About the Affordable Care Act.

To find out more about Wendell, please visit his website at

Entries by Wendell Potter

Is Crony Capitalism a Big Reason for America's Dental Health Care Crisis?

(6) Comments | Posted October 30, 2015 | 1:34 PM

For an example of how Big Money in politics is causing real harm to average Americans, look at the practice of dentistry in this country.

The United States is facing a dental care crisis for a number of...

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Is There a Fox Guarding California's Hen House?

(1) Comments | Posted September 21, 2015 | 1:51 PM

When the Affordable Care Act (ACA) became law in 2010, the individual health insurance market was highly concentrated, with little to no competition in most states. One or two insurers controlled the top 94 metropolitan markets in the United States. In 30 states and the District of Columbia, one major...

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Health Insurance Mergers Make Executives Richer, Policyholders Poorer

(10) Comments | Posted August 24, 2015 | 4:52 PM

If regulators approve the recently announced mega-deals in which Aetna, Inc. would buy Humana Inc. and Anthem Inc. would buy Cigna Corp., will consumers benefit? Or will the winners be limited primarily to the executives and shareholders of the companies involved?

If history is guide, the big winners will be...

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What Trump Doesn't Get About Those "Artificial Lines" Around States

(41) Comments | Posted August 10, 2015 | 1:06 PM

If folks who watched Thursday night's Republican presidential debate were expecting the candidates to tell us what they'd do to replace Obamacare if they could get rid of it, those folks would have been disappointed.

In fact, the 10 candidates who are currently leading the polls said so little about...

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GOP Myth: Obamacare Is Driving Health Insurance Mergers

(10) Comments | Posted July 13, 2015 | 10:14 PM

Republican lawmakers and their friends in Washington's conservative think tanks have put forth another reason Americans should hate Obamacare: it's making the country's biggest insurance companies gobble each other up. If the recently announced deals actually happen, they say, we'll have fewer insurance choices.

When the CEOs of Aetna and...

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Coming Health Insurer Mergers Will Costs Consumers -- and Jobs

(36) Comments | Posted July 6, 2015 | 6:09 PM

The number of health insurers competing for your business almost certainly will decrease in coming months as the big for-profit firms merge or acquire each other. The companies insist that the results will enable them to operate more efficiently through the elimination of redundancies. But don't expect your premiums to...

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Why America's Central Bank Is Concerned About Our Growing Dental Health Care Crisis

(40) Comments | Posted June 22, 2015 | 5:20 PM

If the U.S. Federal Reserve is concerned about the state of dental care in this country, you know we have a problem.

In fact, according to the Fed, we have a very big problem.

The Federal Reserve...

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Here's What Happens When Wall Street Runs Hospitals

(155) Comments | Posted June 15, 2015 | 5:00 PM

If you think costs would come down if hospitals were all owned and operated by big for-profit corporations like Hospital Corporation of America, you might want to take a look at a study published last week by the journal Health Affairs.

Of the 50 U.S. hospitals that mark...

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Many of Us Are Placing Bad Bets in the Obamacare Exchange Casino

(3) Comments | Posted May 26, 2015 | 5:22 PM

Here's the good news: 74 percent of people nationwide who enrolled in health insurance plans through the Obamacare exchanges rate their coverage as excellent or good. That's according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey released last Thursday.

Here's the not so good news: There's a better than even...

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Insurers' High-Deductible Plans Leave Growing Numbers of Americans Without Needed Care

(1) Comments | Posted May 20, 2015 | 5:08 PM

A dozen or so years ago, a small group of wealthy corporate insurance executives decided their customers were not paying nearly enough for the medical care they received. How else to explain the fact that managed care -- which they had touted as a silver bullet just a decade earlier...

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Court Case Shows How Health Insurers Rip off You and Your Employer

(40) Comments | Posted May 12, 2015 | 12:40 PM

If you think you're paying too much for employer-sponsored health coverage, you might want to forward this to the HR department. It's possible, maybe even likely, that your health insurer has been ripping off both you and your employer -- to the tune of several million dollars every year --...

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Why Health Insurers May Be Destined to Follow Blockbuster Into Irrelevance

(51) Comments | Posted May 4, 2015 | 2:28 PM

Remember Blockbuster?

In its heyday -- which wasn't so long ago -- Blockbuster had 60,000 employees and 9,000 locations. For most Americans, for a minute anyway, it was the place to rent a movie. Then along came Netflix. And Redbox, which operates most of the movie-rental kiosks in convenience and...

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Insurers Hire a Liberal Congresswoman to Lead Their Newest Phony Front Group

(10) Comments | Posted April 29, 2015 | 10:27 AM

The health insurance industry took advantage of Washington's infamous revolving door last week when it named former Rep. Allyson Schwartz of Pennsylvania, perceived by many to be a liberal Democrat, as the face of its latest K Street-operated front group.

Schwartz, a former five-term member of Congress who made an...

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Here's Proof That Obamacare Was Anything but a Government Takeover

(0) Comments | Posted April 20, 2015 | 3:27 PM

Anyone who still thinks the Affordable Care Act was a "government takeover of health care" should consider this headline from the news pages of last Thursday's Investor's Business Daily:

"UnitedHealth Profit Soars On Obamacare, Optum"

That's from a Wall Street publication whose editorial writers have rarely missed an...

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Energy Firms, Health Insurers Deftly Use Others to Spread Propaganda

(3) Comments | Posted April 13, 2015 | 6:44 PM

I usually don't pay a lot of attention to the songs on a restaurant's playlist, but when "The Old Rugged Cross" came on at the Manassas, Virginia, Cracker Barrel as I was traveling to Tennessee recently, I put my fork down and listened.

Hearing the hymn took me back nearly...

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Lawmaker Blames Obamacare for 1999 Law, Tries to Restore Drive-Through Deliveries

(20) Comments | Posted April 6, 2015 | 11:04 AM

During his campaign for the Alabama Legislature last year, now-State Sen. Larry Stutts, a Sheffield Republican and OB/GYN, vowed to get the government out of the middle of the patient-physician relationship. He made no mention of the fact that what he really had in mind was putting insurance companies back...

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Why Growing Numbers of Americans Are Embarrassed to Smile

(0) Comments | Posted April 3, 2015 | 11:16 AM

Fifteen years ago this spring, Surgeon General David Satcher issued a call to action to address what he called America's "silent epidemic"--the growing incidence of dental disease in this country.

Unfortunately, we as a nation have not...

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Red State Lawmakers Helping Cancer Patients Push Back Against Insurance Denials

(1) Comments | Posted March 23, 2015 | 11:34 AM

The lawmakers who wrote Obamacare devoted more attention to insurance companies than to any other part of our healthcare system. That's understandable considering the countless stories members of Congress had heard over the years from their constituents, especially those with cancer.

Many of them told of being deemed "uninsurable"...

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The More Skin We Put in the Game, the More Wall Street Likes It

(0) Comments | Posted March 18, 2015 | 6:37 PM

The reason healthcare costs are so high is that Americans don't have nearly enough "skin in the game."

That was the phrase that many of my former colleagues in the insurance industry and I began using in the early 2000s as a way to deflect attention away from us.

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Why My Kentucky Kinfolks Can Sleep Easier Than My Tennessee Kinfolks

(0) Comments | Posted March 9, 2015 | 12:43 PM

If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the plaintiffs in King v. Burwell, nowhere will the effect be more stark than along the 400-mile border between two states my family has called home, Tennessee and Kentucky.

In the state where I grew up, Tennessee, thousands of people would in...

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