iOS app Android app

Wendell Potter
Wendell Potter, a contributing writer to the Huffington Post, is also an author, public speaker and president of Wendell Potter Consulting. After a 25-year career in business, he left his job as head of communications for one of the nation's largest health insurers and became a vocal advocate for health care reform and a critic of insurance company abuses.

In widely covered testimony before the Senate Commerce, Science and Technology Committee in June 2009, Wendell disclosed how insurance companies, as part of their efforts to boost profits, have engaged in practices that have resulted in millions of Americans being forced into the ranks of the uninsured. Wendell also described how the insurance industry has developed and implemented strategic communications plans, based on deceptive public relations and advertising and lobbying efforts, to defeat or weaken reform initiatives.

During his business career, Wendell held a variety of positions at Humana Inc. and CIGNA Corporation. When he left CIGNA in 2008 he was serving as head of corporate communications and as the company's chief corporate spokesperson.

In addition to his consulting business, he is a columnist at the Center for Public Integrity. A former reporter, he covered Congress, the White House and Supreme Court and wrote a weekly political column for Scripps-Howard newspapers.

His latest book, published in December 2013 by Bloomsbury USA, is Obamacare: What's in It for Me: What Everyone Needs to Know About the Affordable Care Act. His first book, Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR Is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans, was published in November 2010 by Bloomsbury USA.

Entries by Wendell Potter

Big Insurance Companies Won't Be Big Insurance Companies Much Longer. Here's Why

(12) Comments | Posted September 22, 2014 | 1:55 PM

As I wrote last week, one of the nation's biggest employers -- Boeing -- is pioneering a concept in providing health care benefits to its employees that eliminates insurance companies as middlemen.

What Boeing is doing represents a seismic shift in health care financing and delivery that potentially...

Read Post

If Boeing Strategy Flies, Health Insurers as Middlemen Will Soon Be History

(2) Comments | Posted September 15, 2014 | 10:54 AM

There are many Americans who are beginning to question the contributions big insurance companies make to our health care system. And I'm not just talking about lefty advocates of a single-payer system. Corporate executives are also wondering why we need the big insurers and whether higher-quality and more cost-effective care...

Read Post

Insurers Using Familiar Playbook to Protect Profits in California

(3) Comments | Posted September 2, 2014 | 11:19 AM

For the next two months, Californians will to be subjected to a barrage of TV, radio and online ads, which, ironically, they unknowingly will be paying for with their health insurance premiums.

The ads are a part of a multipronged, multimillion-dollar campaign -- developed by public relations, advertising firms and...

Read Post

Why Health Care Costs So Much: Both Parties Suck at Teat of Medical-Industrial Complex

(22) Comments | Posted August 25, 2014 | 10:44 AM

As one of an estimated 78 million baby boomers in this country, I was delighted to hear that Medicare's Hospital Trust Fund won't run out of money until 2030 -- 13 years later than projected in 2009, the year before Congress passed the Affordable Care Act.

While it's...

Read Post

Why Do We Put Up with Washington's Cynical Misinformation Game?

(10) Comments | Posted August 19, 2014 | 1:32 PM

In most of our country's major institutions, we have little tolerance for cheating and lying. Whether it's the court system, schools, businesses, even our sports teams, we impose stiff sanctions against those who deceive us to gain some advantage.

If convicted of lying on the witness stand, you'll pay a...

Read Post

Dire Predictions About Doctor Shortage Post-Obamacare Haven't Panned Out

(12) Comments | Posted August 12, 2014 | 1:00 PM

Among the many predictions of Obamacare-related catastrophe was that the law, by enabling millions to join the ranks of the insured, would force us all to wait longer to see a doctor and very possibly lead to a code blue for U.S. health care.

"Doctor shortage, increased demand could crash...

Read Post

Talking Points Trump Truth in Message-Driven Washington

(2) Comments | Posted July 28, 2014 | 10:22 AM

Former congressional staffer Scott Lilly, now a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, testified at a hearing on Capitol Hill last week that lawmakers might be able to reach a bipartisan consensus on how to improve the congressional budget process if Washington were not ruled by public relations...

Read Post

A Free-Market Solution to Alleviating America's Oral Health Crisis: Dental Therapists

(2) Comments | Posted July 18, 2014 | 3:02 PM

Author's Note: This article is part of an a series examining America's oral health care crisis. Be sure to read the previous article, "States Finally Taking Action to Improve Access to Critical Dental Care."

I hope...

Read Post

Those Obamacare Attack Ads Backfired, Actually Helped Boost Enrollment

(2) Comments | Posted July 14, 2014 | 11:45 AM

Since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed in 2010, its opponents have spent an estimated $450 million on political ads attacking the law, according to Kantar Media's CMAG, which analyzes spending on advertising. Supporters have spent a tiny fraction of that amount. Kantar says opponents have outspent those who...

Read Post

Insurers Are Fleecing Us Out of Billions While Congress Looks the Other Way

(29) Comments | Posted June 16, 2014 | 10:01 AM

A year-long investigation by the Center for Public Integrity has revealed that health insurers may have fleeced taxpayers out of $70 billion in just five years.

You would think members of Congress in both parties would be so outraged they'd be launching their own investigation and railing against...

Read Post

Skyrocketing Health Insurer CEOs' Paychecks Are "Crazy," Says Executive Comp Expert

(4) Comments | Posted June 9, 2014 | 12:09 PM

If health insurance companies announce big premium increases on policies for 2015, I hope regulators, lawmakers and the media will look closely at whether they are justified, especially in light of recent disclosures of better-than-expected profits in 2013, rosy outlooks for the rest of this year and soaring CEO compensation.

Read Post

This Is What Passes for Journalism in Washington These Days

(2) Comments | Posted June 3, 2014 | 11:44 AM

If you read my column last week about a Senate hearing that showed how Obamacare has affected Americans, you might have wondered if I was in the same room with reporters who presumably covered the event.

The disparity goes a long way toward explaining why so many of...

Read Post

Making Insurers Do the Right Thing Saves Us Billions

(30) Comments | Posted May 27, 2014 | 11:12 AM

The first time I blew the whistle on health insurance companies was during a Senate Commerce Committee hearing in June 2009. Last Wednesday, almost five years later, I appeared before that committee again to give a progress report on how Americans have been benefiting since Congress enacted reforms in 2010...

Read Post

A Different Way of Thinking About Health Care

(0) Comments | Posted May 19, 2014 | 2:05 PM

A Charleston, South Carolina man who thought he had pretty good health insurance may miss work today, as he has several times already this year, because of a hernia. He's in constant pain and needs surgery, but he has been postponing it. It's not because he's afraid of hospitals or...

Read Post

Health Insurers Using Playbook Again to Protect Profits at Expense of Consumers

(2) Comments | Posted May 12, 2014 | 12:45 PM

As I wrote in my book, Deadly Spin, the health insurance industry and other special interest groups use a tried-and-true set of tactics to push back against threats to their profitability. I referred to those tactics collectively as "The Playbook on How to Influence Lawmakers and Regulators Through the Manipulation...

Read Post

States Finally Taking Action to Improve Access to Critical Dental Care

(1) Comments | Posted May 9, 2014 | 11:42 AM

Author's Note: This post is part of a series examining America's oral health care crisis. Be sure to read the previous article, "Why a Trip to the Dentist Costs So Much Now -- And What We Can Do About It."

Read Post

Why It's More Important Than Ever to Keep an Eye on Health Insurers

(0) Comments | Posted May 5, 2014 | 10:02 AM

After writing a couple weeks back that we need to keep an eye on profit-hungry health insurers to make sure they are not refusing to pay for medically necessary care, I got a flood of emails and tweets from people with stories to share.

That column was published just as...

Read Post

The Truth About the Canadian Health Care System I Spent Years Disparaging

(45) Comments | Posted April 30, 2014 | 1:55 PM

When I returned home after a two-week speaking tour of Canada and began catching up on news about Obamacare, I was angry and upset, and not just at politicians and special interests that benefit from deception-based PR tactics. I was -- and still am -- mostly angry and upset with...

Read Post

As Medical Claim Denials Increase, Be Prepared to Be a Squeaky Wheel

(6) Comments | Posted April 21, 2014 | 11:33 AM

The good news from last week was that 8 million Americans have signed up for health insurance through the Obamacare-created exchanges. The not so good news is that because most of us have to buy coverage from a private insurer, we will always have to be vigilant to make sure...

Read Post

Why Canada May Be Heading Down the "Slippery Slope" Toward American-Style Health Care

(0) Comments | Posted April 14, 2014 | 12:43 PM

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- During the year leading up to the 2008 presidential primaries, my insurance industry colleagues and I were working hard to influence the debate on health care reform.

Our number one objective: make Americans so afraid of "heading down the slippery slope toward socialism" that no candidate...

Read Post