An ex-Cigna exec says he spread lies about Canada’s health system—and it hurt Americans

Last week, former health insurance executive Wendell Potter tweeted a confession that went briefly viral before disappearing again into the news cycle ether. But his mea culpa deserves more attention.

Potter, who left Cigna Health where he was a vice-president of communications in 2008, wrote that in his previous career, he was among those in the health insurance industry who spent huge sums to convince Americans that Canada’s single-payer system was “awful.”

The industry and its lobbying group, American Health Insurance Providers (AHIP), manipulated data and found the rare case stories they needed to spread disinformation campaigns suggesting that Canadians have long waits for healthcare, he said. Not only was that untrue, but in Canada, where there are no deductibles or co-pays, “no one gets turned away from doctors due to lack of funds,” he said. “In America, exorbitant bills are a defining feature of the system.”

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