Hospitals Back to Suing Patients; Molina CEO Pay Ratio is 232-to-1; More Findings of Health Racial Disparities

Public Citizen Has You Covered

Welcome to this week’s edition of “We’ve Got You Covered,” a weekly tipsheet designed to highlight key news about Medicare for All and call out the biggest health care industry lies and falsehoods about universal health care. Please send tips, feedback and questions to Mike Stankiewicz, mstankiewicz@citizen.org, (202) 588-7779.

NINETEEN DOLLAR BAND-AID: HOSPITALS STILL SUING PATIENTS

Hospitals in the hardest-hit coronavirus states are starting to sue patients again, despite a record number of COVID-19 cases and millions of Americans out of work – and uninsured.

Nearly all of the roughly two dozen Community Health Systems hospitals in Florida, Texas and Arizona have resumed suing patients over medical bills, according to Axios, after a pause earlier this year. The hospitals have filed hundreds of cases per county and are seeking to collect on medical bills of up to $126,000, which translates to about half of the average U.S. mortgage.

“I am [writing] this response to inform you of my inability to [pay] this outstanding medical Debt, I only bring home a check of 525 dollars a week and [am] helping two daughters with my grandkids,” one Fort Worth, Texas man, who was refused any payment relief options, wrote in a letter to a judge. “If I had money, and I could afford a lawyer, I would countersue the hospital for price gouging. When they want to charge you $19 for a band-aid, that’s ridiculous.”

The wife of a disabled veteran was also hit with three lawsuits in two years after she took her daughter to the hospital when she was uninsured. Like many, her work hours were cut due to the economic downturn.

The current health care system isn’t working for these Americans. Medicare for All would not only end price gouging by providers and manufacturers but would also guarantee coverage for everyone so no Americans will again be burdened by medical debt.

MOLINA CEO PAID 232 TIMES AS MUCH AS MEDIAN EMPLOYEE

The CEOs of the top six private insurance companies saw their earnings increase last year, each earning more than $15 million.

Joseph Zubretsky of Molina Healthcare Inc. was paid $18.0 million in total compensation, an 18.4% rise compared to 2018 and 232 times the compensation of the average Molina employee ($65,652).

Anthem Inc. CEO Gail Boudreaux earned $15.5 million, up 9.1% from the previous year. UnitedHealth Group Inc.’s David Wichmann, Humana’s Bruce Broussard and Cigna’s David Cordani were paid $18.9 million, $16.7 million and $19.1 million, respectively, with year-over-year pay increases of 4.3%, 2.5% and 0.8%. Michael Neidorff of Centene remains the highest-paid health insurance CEO, earning $26.4 million in 2019, up 1.2% from the previous year.

Sky high CEO pay at private insurance companies is one reason that the U.S. spends double what other peer countries pay for health care with much poorer health outcomes. Insurance premiums, which are continuing to skyrocket and become more unaffordable each year, are used to pay these corporate executives’ base salaries.

ANOTHER REPORT HIGHLIGHTS RACIAL DISPARITIES IN HEALTH CARE

A new survey from the Commonwealth Fund shows how ill-prepared the health care system was for the coronavirus pandemic and how the current system disproportionately hurts people of color.

About 43% of American adults did not have stable health insurance coverage in the first half of this year and 45% of Black Americans and 35% of whites had trouble paying medical bills, further exposing racial inequalities in the U.S. health care system. Additionally, more than one-third of Hispanic adults, small business workers and people with low incomes were uninsured.

This follows a similar report from the National Urban League that found Black Americans are three times more likely to become infected with the coronavirus than whites and twice as likely to die.

Systematic racism in health care is another pandemic plaguing this country.

PUBLIC CITIZEN’S ADVOCACY AND RESOLUTIONS

Public Citizen has advocated for single-payer health care since our founding in 1971 and has worked for decades to end profiteering and waste in health care – whether from insurers, Big Pharma or hospitals.

Public Citizen is dedicated to building the grassroots movement we will need to win Medicare for All. Along with our 500,000 members and allies, Public Citizen works with local elected officials in cities, counties and towns from coast to coast to pass resolutions supporting Medicare for All and send a powerful signal to Congress that health care is a human right.

To speak with a Medicare for All policy expert, or if you have questions about Public Citizen’s work, please contact Mike Stankiewicz, mstankiewicz@citizen.org, (202) 588-7779.