Reasons why health plans are called 'dishonest'

October 1, 2009

State of the Industry survey results

Robert Palmer, CEO, Dean Health Plan, believes the biggest reason insurers are seen as dishonest "is because politicians are telling people they are." Insurers have become favorite targets of politicians, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has called them "villains" and "immoral."

"The dishonesty trend has been around for a long time, and it's not likely to abate soon," says Palmer. "It's a slow but definitely rising trend that has jumped up because of all the political activity, but it is not an appropriate way to view the industry as whole."

He says in reality, doctors hold the pen in spending by ordering services, and insurers simply pay the bills.

"Insurance is a healthcare financing mechanism, which makes it possible to afford healthcare by spreading the risk around," he says.

While executive salaries and bonuses were the second most-cited response (17.5%), Palmer says it's important to remember the two types of insurers: the large, publicly traded insurers, and the insurers that are provider-sponsored or are integrated delivery systems.

"You will never see executives in the high salary group from the provider-sponsored insurers," says Palmer.