Ex-exec testifies against insurance giant for 'purging' customers

CNN reports on insurance industry whistle-blower Wendall Potter who, after working in the machine for 20 years, quit in order to right a few wrongs. Last week, Potter testified before the Senate about former employer Cigna’s policy of “purging.” In other words, Cigna would drive small businesses with expensive insurance claims to dump their Cigna policies.

“When that business comes up for renewal, the underwriters jack the rates up so much, the employer has no choice but to drop insurance,” Potter said.

CNN obtained a transcript of a 2008 Cigna conference call with investors in which company executives use the term “purge.”

Of course, Cigna spokesman Chris Curran denied that the company engages in purging.

“We do not practice that. We will offer rates that are reflective of the competitive group health insurance market. We always encourage our clients to compare our proposed rates to those available from other carriers,” Curran wrote.

In other words, we purge, but we do it in a more delicately worded fashion than using the word “purge.”

Potter’s turnabout came in 2007, when he visited a medical charity event in Virginia and saw volunteer doctors seeing patients in barns, people in animal stalls. “It changed it for me,” he told CNN. Potter is now blogging for the Center for Media and Democracy, the fine organization behind PR Watch.

Ex-executive accuses insurance giant of ‘purging’ customers [CNN] (Thanks, Cantras!)

Carrie McLaren & Jason Torchinsky are coeditors of Ad Nauseam: A Survivor’s Guide to American Consumer Culture. In previous lives, they worked together on the hopelessly obscure and now defunct Stay Free! magazine .