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Whistleblower: 6 Ways Romney's Healthcare Proposals Enrich Insurance Companies and Sicken Americans

Romney's plan is a prescription for boosting insurance industry profits at the expense of the public's well-being.

Our nation's healthcare system greatly impacts Americans' lives and livelihoods as well as the health of our overall economy. Yet Mitt Romney's healthcare proposals have received little substantive scrutiny in the media, especially during the presidential debates. He's promised to begin the process of repealing President Obama's Affordable Care Act "on day one," but what exactly would a President Romney replace it with?

Former CIGNA executive-turned-whistleblower Wendell Potter has studied Romney's proposals and the deceptive rhetoric driving them, and found that the former Bain Capital CEO's plan is nothing more than a prescription for boosting health insurance companies' ever-soaring profits at the direct expense of the public's health and financial security. In a phone interview with AlterNet on the eve of the last presidential debate, Potter, a senior healthcare analyst at the Center for Public Integrity, lays bare six of the myths -- some of which he once helped to disseminate -- behind Romney's claims that his plan would increase competition, lower costs and improve quality of care for all Americans.

1. "I'll Cover Preexisting Conditions"

Wendell Potter: He has said that his plan would protect people with preexisting conditions. It clearly does not. If what he is proposing would be the law of the land, it would be essentially what the law is right now. That means people who are not fortunate enough to already have coverage through a large group plan are often pretty much out of luck. It's almost impossible to buy a policy on the individual market if you've got a preexisting condition. Even through a small employer it's very difficult to get affordable coverage if one of your employees has a preexisting condition, or you yourself if you're an employer.

So it would enable health insurance companies to avoid taking on the risk of insuring people who really need coverage the most. And frankly, it's one of the reasons why we have so many millions of Americans who don't have coverage. It's because they have preexisting conditions and can't buy coverage at any price. Some people have a health history that enables insurance companies to offer them coverage but charge them much more than they do other people. So it would enable them to continue to use underwriting techniques to exclude people from coverage who really need it. And that would enable them to continue to maximize their profits.

It would also allow insurance companies to continue to charge women more than men. Women have been discriminated against for many years just because they're women. The Affordable Care Act would end that discrimination. But obviously if the law is repealed, we go back to women being discriminated against and having to pay more, in many cases much more, than men. And when we're talking here about being charged more, we're talking about being charged more for their premiums rather than for what they would pay for a co-payment or out-of-pocket expense.

If you are a female and you're trying to get a policy on your own, more than likely you are going to be charged more than if you were a male. Particularly if you are of childbearing age because there is a very obvious chance -- or risk as they would put it -- of a woman of childbearing age having a child and requiring greater care just because of that. They don't like that. They would prefer not to have to cover those expenses. But if they have to, what they do is charge you more upfront for the policy just because you're female, because you're made different and you are capable of having children.

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