iOS app Android app

Wendell Potter
Wendell Potter is an author and analyst at the Center for Public Integrity. 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 in June 2009, 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.

Wendell was a journalist in his first career. He was a newspaper reporter in Memphis and Nashville before relocating to Washington to cover Congress, the White House and Supreme Court for Scripps-Howard newspapers.

His 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.

He is also a frequent contributor to

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

Entries by Wendell Potter

Energy Firms, Health Insurers Deftly Use Others to Spread Propaganda

(3) Comments | Posted April 13, 2015 | 5:44 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...

Read Post

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

(20) Comments | Posted April 6, 2015 | 10:04 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...

Read Post

Why Growing Numbers of Americans Are Embarrassed to Smile

(0) Comments | Posted April 3, 2015 | 10:16 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...

Read Post

Red State Lawmakers Helping Cancer Patients Push Back Against Insurance Denials

(1) Comments | Posted March 23, 2015 | 10:34 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"...

Read Post

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

(0) Comments | Posted March 18, 2015 | 5:37 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.

Read Post

Why My Kentucky Kinfolks Can Sleep Easier Than My Tennessee Kinfolks

(0) Comments | Posted March 9, 2015 | 11:43 AM

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...

Read Post

Health Insurance Premiums Will Likely Go Up Next Year -- Just Because Justices Agreed to Hear King v. Burwell

(24) Comments | Posted March 5, 2015 | 10:41 AM

You may have read that the Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday in yet another case challenging the Affordable Care Act.

What you probably have not heard is that regardless of how the court eventually rules in King v. Burwell, your premiums will likely go up next year simply because the...

Read Post

Brits Think We're Nuts for Believing Our Health System Is Better Than Theirs

(7) Comments | Posted February 23, 2015 | 9:48 AM

America is the home of the brave, they say, but a lot of us brave folks are terrified of the way the British do health care.

We're even afraid of other Americans who aren't afraid of it, like Dr. Donald Berwick. President Obama nominated Berwick to lead the Centers for...

Read Post

Why I'm OK Having a Mid-Level Dental Practitioner Work on My Teeth

(21) Comments | Posted February 19, 2015 | 9:03 AM

Would you trust someone with two years of dental training to pull one of your teeth or fill a cavity?

If you're like me--or like I used to be--I'm pretty sure you're saying, "Not a chance."

Until a...

Read Post

It's Clear Now the Public Option Really Was Needed to Keep Insurers Honest

(28) Comments | Posted February 16, 2015 | 9:24 AM

When members of Congress caved to demands from the insurance industry and ditched their plan to establish a "public option" health plan, the lawmakers also ditched one of their favorite talking points, that a government-run plan was necessary to "keep insurers honest."

Getting rid of a government-run insurance option was...

Read Post

Here's How Health Insurers Dream of Replacing Obamacare

(24) Comments | Posted February 9, 2015 | 11:36 AM

We got a glimpse last week of what would happen to our health care system if Republicans increase their control of Congress and win the White House in 2016.

Gone would be the part of Obamacare that Americans tell pollsters they don't like: the requirement that they enroll in some...

Read Post

Health Insurers' Stock Soars as They Dump Small Business Customers

(20) Comments | Posted January 26, 2015 | 11:00 AM

Several million previously uninsured Americans now have coverage because of Obamacare, but it could be argued that the people who have benefited most from the law -- at least financially -- are the top executives and shareholders of the country's health insurance companies.

Among those who apparently have not yet...

Read Post

Selling Out for Big Business: Business as Usual on Capitol Hill

(6) Comments | Posted January 19, 2015 | 10:26 AM

In coming weeks, we can expect the Republican-controlled Congress to push two Obamacare bills that would hike profits for some businesses. What we can't expect, from either Republicans or Democrats, unfortunately, is any effort to help families, even those with insurance, to stay out of bankruptcy court because of mounting...

Read Post

Good News on Health Care in 2014, But We're Still Spending Way Too Much

(1) Comments | Posted December 23, 2014 | 9:34 AM

The end of the year is always a good time to reflect on what went right and what didn't and to speculate about what might happen in the coming 12 months.

So let's take a look at how the U.S. health care system changed in 2014 -- the first year...

Read Post

Critical Months Ahead for Single-Payer Advocates

(14) Comments | Posted December 15, 2014 | 12:28 PM

Two weeks from now, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin will describe how he thinks the country's first state-based single-payer system will be financed. Whether the Green Mountain State keeps moving forward with its goal of achieving universal coverage while also reducing the growth of health care spending depends largely on how...

Read Post

Why Waiting to Sign Up for an Obamacare Plan Could Cost You a Bundle

(5) Comments | Posted December 8, 2014 | 11:03 AM

Attention, shoppers: After today, for those whose employers don't offer health insurance, there will only be seven shopping days left for coverage that starts on January 1, 2015.

December 15 is the last day you will be able to pick an Obamacare plan if you want to be insured beginning...

Read Post

Exploding the Myths About Health Care in America

(5) Comments | Posted December 1, 2014 | 10:34 AM

I don't agree with Romney and Obama health care adviser Jonathan Gruber that Americans are stupid, but there is abundant evidence that we're incredibly gullible. And we're paying a big price for it. For the latest evidence, check out the documentary Remote Area Medical, which opens...

Read Post

Why 68 Million of Us Will Soon Be Uninsured if Supreme Court Agrees With D.C. Think Tank

(245) Comments | Posted November 25, 2014 | 1:25 PM

At least four million Americans will rejoin the ranks of the uninsured -- and consequently lose access to affordable health care -- if the Supreme Court sides with opponents of Obamacare in a case that hinges on the interpretation of a single sentence in the law. But if that's the...

Read Post

Stupid Is as Stupid Does

(74) Comments | Posted November 17, 2014 | 12:39 PM

When I saw the news coverage of White House health care adviser Jonathan Gruber's remarks, in which he essentially called Americans stupid, I thought of the old saying, "With friends like that, who needs enemies?"

My next thought was, who's being stupid here?

Gruber is an MIT health...

Read Post

Health Insurers (and Their Shareholders) Win Midterm Election!

(4) Comments | Posted November 10, 2014 | 1:37 PM

Republicans weren't the only big winners in last Tuesday's election. So were health insurance companies, many of which spent heavily to influence the outcome.

There are several provisions of the Affordable Care Act that the insurance industry would like the next Congress to change. If insurers get what they...

Read Post