Wednesday, October 08, 2008

If Wall St. execs run scams like this, what do health insurance ones do?

I and most people were concerned that if we gave bailouts to Wall Street that they would squirrel that money away in their secret off-shore accounts, never to be seen again. They blatantly partied with it here in the US. AIG execs went on a weeklong retreat to a spa to the tune of $440,000.

As I was writing this, I heard a similar story on the radio about George Herbert Walker, cousin of the Bush family, who worked for Lehman and sent out a memo saying their bailout would NOT affect executive bonuses.

I was opposed to the Patriot Act at the time it was passed, but maybe we should use it to go after these Wall Street parasites who have done more damage to our economy and reputation in the world than bin Laden could have done if he had crashed a plane into Wall St.

The other thing implication of this is if you oppose or know someone who opposes single payer health insurance, this is exactly what insurance company execs are doing with your premiums you are paying while simultaneously denying you treatment you need to stay alive because NOT giving you the service you paid for is how they keep their spa trips and bonuses rolling in.

A study by the New England Journal of Medicine found that Canada spent half as much on medical administrative costs than us, their single-payer system had overhead of 1.3 percent . Medicare averages 3.6 percent, but private U.S. insurers was 11.7 percent . The difference goes into profits, those operators you have to call to be denied care, and of course executive salaries, bonuses, and spa trips.

If health insurance were government run, at least we could have some input on executive salaries. To change what private insurance companies pay their execs, you would have to be a major shareholder. So our choice is between one person one vote and one dollar one vote (or more like a couple of million dollars).


For some people at AIG, the insurance giant rescued last month with an $85 billion federal bailout, the good times keep rolling.

And just last week, about 70 of the company's top performers were rewarded with a week-long stay at the luxury St. Regis Resort in Monarch Beach, Calif., where they ran up a tab of $440,000.

At a House committee hearing yesterday, Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) showed a photograph of the resort, which overlooks the Pacific Ocean, and reported expenses for AIG personnel including $200,000 for rooms, $150,000 for meals and $23,000 for the spa.

Joseph Cassano, the financial products manager whose complex investments led to American International Group's near collapse, is receiving $1 million a month in consulting fees.

As for Cassano, the executive in charge of the company's troubled financial products division, he received more than $280 million over the past eight years. Even after he was terminated in February as his investments turned sour, the company allowed him to keep as much as $34 million in unvested bonuses and put him on a $1 million-a-month retainer.


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