Worst Company In America 2008 "Sweet 16": Countrywide VS United Health Care

Here’s your eighth and final “Sweet 16” match-up:

Here’s what some of you had to say about these two companies:


“What a bunch of scammy scumbags.”

“It’s it’s not Countrywide by a landslide, I’ll be shocked.”

“Countrywide is officially my pick to win this whole competition. “

United Health Care

“I HATE United Health Care. I took my three children in to have their teeth cleaned. Untied DENIED the clam becasue it had been less than six month since the last cleaning. Turns out it had been five months and 29 days since their last cleaning. Had I waited one more day United would have paid the claim. When I complained I was told by several reps that I was SOL. JERKS!!!”

“Cuomo’s investigation also found a clear example of the scheme: United insurers knew most simple doctor visits cost $200, but claimed to their members the typical rate was only $77. The insurers then applied the contractual reimbursement rate of 80%, covering only $62 for a $200 bill, and leaving the patient to cover the $138 balance.”

This is a post in our Worst Company In America 2008 series. The companies nominated for this honor were chosen by you, the readers. Keep track of all the goings on at consumerist.com/tag/worst-company-in-america.


Edit Your Comment

  1. beavis88 says:

    UHC, for the same reason I voted BSBC yesterday – I can get a new bank anytime, but I probably can’t (reasonably) get a new health insurance company.

  2. Kos says:

    So what happens if it Countrywide vs. BofA in one of the final rounds since BofA is acquiring/has since acquired Countrywide?

  3. Dakine says:


    That would be something akin to matter and anti-matter colliding at the nexus of the universe. Bad things can only come of it.

  4. Jaysyn was banned for: https://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    For some reason I can no longer click the vote button using Maxthon 2.1.1

  5. Meg Marco says:

    @Kos: We ask Steven Wright to pick a winner.

  6. blackmage439 says:

    @Kos: Enough of your temporal paradoxes, sir. I prefer the fabric of space/time staying in one piece, thank you.

    United ruins people’s lives by not funding legitimate health care costs and by ripping people off to the point of not being able to afford health care at all.

    Countrywide ruins people’s lives by offering them sleazy loans they have no hope of paying off, and nearly fudge-packing their financial future.

    In the end, I had to vote for Countrywide because I have no dealings with United. I’ll be pulling my money market out of their coffers soon.

  7. Dakine says:


    Safari too. Checked in FF3 and the polling site appears to be either down or extremely clogged at the moment.

  8. huadpe says:

    If you look at the total amount of money that they’ve defrauded people for, Countrywide wins in a landslide. Well, kinda. Countrywide got smacked pretty hard by the “there is no free lunch” of economics. UNH is like a slow IV drip of fraudulent money.

  9. jakesprincess says:

    UHC for sure. They take forever to pay claims so you are sent to collections by the doctor ir facility. They mess up their paperwork and send you the same thing to fill out and mail back multiple times over a six month period so a claim can be processed, which yes, puts you into collections. They only cover “some” of the doctors in an operating room leaving you to cover the doctor fee (like I can get off the table and ask each attending to make sure they are in-network)—let’s face it, if the surgeon is covered then their attendings should be, as well.

    Over the years I have spent more time and energy on correcting UHS’c mistakes that I have lost months off my life, months I can never get back.

  10. luz says:

    Countrywide, because before the subprime crisis I could finance my education, and now I’m posting as a dropout.

  11. Bladefist says:

    UHC ain’t gonna happen. Too expensive.

    Countrywide is ultimately what caused the dollar to be worthless. So them, and people like them, wrecked our economy, which has effected way more lives then any 1 insurance company.

  12. sleze69 says:

    No one has died from the subprime debacle but a lot of lives were ruined.

    Countrywide FTW.

  13. Bladefist says:

    For those of you who think UHC is going to happen, you will need a super majority in the Senate. While democrats have a majority, they are far from a super majority. Republicans will never let it pass.

    I’m just saying. So that you don’t get all excited for nothing.

  14. Burgandy says:

    Countrywide ftw! I just wish they would have had enough forthought to loan to people who would leave their houses in good shape before they were booted out. Can’t find a nice forclosure at a reasonable price in town.

  15. Why vote for Countrywide when you can vote for its parent company, Bank of America?

  16. sleze69 says:

    @postnocomments: Because you can vote for both!

  17. mac-phisto says:

    @Burgandy: lol! yes, b/c if i receive an eviction notice that says i have 24 hours to vacate my residence, my first order of business is to paint the walls & scrub the floors.

  18. Kos says:

    @Meg Marco: That would be awesome.

  19. textilesdiva says:

    Can’t vote or view results.

  20. rmz says:

    Countrywide for sure.

  21. Cap'n Jack says:

    Countrywide for the win.

  22. Munsoned says:

    @Kos: Make sure the loser gets a nice, shiny, second-runner up trophy.

  23. Tmoney02 says:

    “Countrywide ruins people’s lives by offering them sleazy loans they have no hope of paying off”

    Key word being “offering”. The people whose lives are ruined chose to take those loans.

    I’m out 20 bucks because I played three card monty with the sleazy guy on the corner. Should I blame him or myself for accepting his offer to play a “no hope” game?

    Meanwhile people get shafted without any consent by bad health care companies.

  24. Trai_Dep says:

    Countrywide is the subprime mortgage business. Sure, blame is spread widely, but no one company/person/sector so aggressively made it part of their business plan.
    Plus the CEO has scary pigment issues going on. Scary!! So the CW win is For The Children!

  25. james says:

    Countrywide should win and the prize should be some pleasant time away at Folsom.

  26. xhx says:

    UHC definitely has my vote. Their coverage has gotten steadily worse over the last 2 years, to the point where we wonder why our company provides the coverage at all.

  27. xhx says:

    UHC definitely has my vote. Their coverage has gotten steadily worse over the last 2 years, to the point that we wonder why our company provides it at all. They know it sucks too, because we’ve been instructed to stop complaining about it to upper management.

  28. dead-eye says:

    Although our mortgage was through Countrywide, our home insurance was through Balboa (which is a subsidiary of CW). Our house suffered a frozen pipe burst last year and it took 2 WEEKS for Balboa to send an adjuster. We wanted to hire a contractor ASAP to start the cleanup but Balboa wanted the adjuster to see the damage first to make an estimate. Balboa also didn’t want to work directly with the contractor and made us the middleman. 2 weeks in moist conditions caused mold to grow yet Balbo covered only $5,000 of the $28,000 mold remediation cost even though the whole thing could have been avoided had they acted sooner. CW and Balboa FTW.

  29. I think there’s troubles voting because it’s not outside the jump.

    Eh, what the hell do I know? I voted just fine.

  30. ARP says:

    @Bladefist: Nah, we’ll just eliminate senate rules that require a supermajority for UHC.

    Remember when the Republicans were going to do that, so dems and the “gang of 14” had to “give” them something (judicial nomineess if I recall) to prevent it. Faux News called it the “constiutional option.” Everyone else called it the “nuclear option.” We’ll just do that and require republicans to give us UHC. Can’t say its unfair because its exactly what republicans tried.

  31. am84 says:

    UHC definitely – pure EVIL

  32. Bladefist says:

    @ARP: Be reasonable. It’s a highly controversial subject. If you think we will have national health care anytime in the next decade, you’re dreaming. You can attack republicans all day and night, I don’t care. It’s my stance on the subject. My senators are fighting for my beliefs. It’s not about corruption, or anything of the sort. Most of America doesn’t want what you’re selling.

  33. anatak says:

    Real battle of the titans here.

    Had to go with UHC. They’ve been worse for longer – I think.

  34. Angryrider says:

    UHC. Easy. They let people die, and rip them off at the same time.

    Countrywide on the other hand rips people off. But if you’re still alive you can fight back through class action lawsuits.

  35. Trai_Dep says:

    @Bladefist: “My senators are fighting for my beliefs. It’s not about corruption, or anything of the sort.”
    Nice “beliefs” you’ve got. Life must be pretty rich that a $17 billion-dollar giveaway to Big Pharma by the Republicans (making Medicare bulk-purchase discounts illegal) doesn’t count as corruption.

    Not that facts will impact your thinking. In the slightest. But it’s okay – it’s good that you admitted it just now. Thankfully, there’s a much larger audience than you ideologues here. They’re who we’re writing to.

  36. ARP says:

    @Bladefist: I think it will be a while before UHC gets enacted (which I’m obviously for). The HMO and Pharma are far too embedded with our politicians to allow this. If anything, it will be a slow transition. Kids first, then High School, then adults, etc.

    I was actually speaking to your supermajority comment, but most americans do want some form of UHC. The open question is what form it will take.

    @Trai_Dep: Easy on the attack there. Bladefist believes what he believes and if his politician is republican, than the person is doing what he was elected to do. I disagree like hell with him, but don’t think the guy (assuming) is dumb and “just doesn’t get it.” Also, when you spout out a bunch of attacks and left wing rants and then accuse him of being an ideologue, then you just look hypocritical.

    That said, I agree the non-negotiation clause was a huge slap in the face and seems to go against the market approach that many republicans advocate (even though the may disagree with the underlying program).

  37. DMXParsons says:

    Speaking of Countrywide, here’s an idea for a post: Today the Senate is debating the Countrywide bailout bill, which is sponsored by one of the senators who got sweet mortgage deals via their friendship with Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo.

    More info: ABC, CNN, National Review (sorry)

  38. Trai_Dep says:

    @ARP: Hey, if this was a Democratic plan foisted on us by a Democratic President, I’d be just as critical. No, a LOT more.
    Thankfully, I’m saved that predicament.
    Look, I’m fine if people think that government should exist to reward campaign fundraisers. Just don’t say it’s the complete opposite, or a principled stand. I’ve read Hobbs: I GET it. Really. Just be honest and factual. Call a spade a spade.
    Especially over health care, since it’s so important.

  39. Bladefist says:

    @ARP: Thanks for the kind words.

    As far as what most Americans want, I disagree. Have you seen any data on that? I haven’t really. Probably could dig up some polls. I would say 90% of my friends are liberals, and they think UHC is a good idea, but they dont trust our government to carry it out. So I’ll admit my comment was not very factual. But based on everything I see, it doesn’t seem to be on a lot of peoples minds.

    Like I’ve said before, the media takes some horror story cases to make us think our health care is terrible. But I’m guessing a ton of people are happy w/ their insurance. There will also be horror stories with UHC. And you damn well bet the media will flip flop on the issue, and attack the governments services. It’s their job to make us feel like we’re getting ripped off.

  40. Bladefist says:

    And I do get it. I’m a middle class person, who is under 25, has medical problems, and spends a lot of money on medical bills. I don’t take any contributions from big oil, health insurance, or pharm companies. I just believe in the Constitution. It lays out the Governments job description. Government will continue to exponentially expand if you let it. You’ve seen on Consumerist, they’re all corrupt. In my lifetime I’ve never seen the government do anything for anyone w/o it benefiting them first.

    I do believe we have a lot of problems in our health care field, pharms, and medical costs. We need more reform then will fit in this comment box. But giving it over the Government, I just cannot support. Even though I am middle class and would/could benefit.

  41. duffbeer703 says:

    I’ve been with UHC for years, and have never had a problem — and I have had a major surgery as well as two years of treatment before the surgery. Ditto for Blue Cross, ditto for Kaiser.

    IMO, most of these horror stories are a result of people not following the rules, not going to in-network doctors and not filling out forms.

    I’m not saying that insurance companies don’t fuck up, but I do find it weird that so many people run into these situations when I haven’t had any problems with any claims over a 12 year period.

  42. planet2334 says:

    I wonder if Countrywide will figure out if they give a spokesman job to Ed McMahon and not foreclose on his home, they will avoid even MORE bad publicity than they already have.

  43. mac-phisto says:

    ok, just out of curiosity, why tf are we discussing universal health care here? did i disconnect somewhere? i mean, UHC (in this article) is an insurance co., right?

    i mean, it’s cool & all, i just feel like the guy that walked into the room 5 seconds after the spokesperson dropped a bomb. am i missing something?

  44. no.no.notorious says:

    @Trai_Dep: sorry, i don’t want to have to pay the hospital bills for people who smoke all day and eat mcdonalds for every meal. i don’t think it’s my job or the government’s

  45. Another banking firm beats out a health care company? People seem to have… odd perceptions.

  46. barty says:

    @duffbeer703: Precisely. Like the complaint above that had the dental claims denied. Read the policy summary! On the 1-2 page sheet that you get in the mail or e-mail, there’s a little thing that says how often they’ll pay for certain services. When it says every 6 months, it means every 6 months! Not 5 months, 29 days. Probably for that very reason, my dentist’s scheduling program seems to default to 6 months and one day when scheduling your next appointment. Otherwise, it is your (gasp!) responsibility to keep up with that kind of stuff.

    If we could just knock off some of the paranoid types out there who go to the doctor for every little cold or sneeze, ridiculous restrictions wouldn’t be in the policies to begin with.