If someone told you that Canada’s health system is an example of socialist failure, where wait times are outrageous and people swarm to the U.S. to get the healthcare they really need, they probably lied.

Wendell Potter spent two decades working in the health insurance industry. He knew it in and out. And he got sick of it. In 2008, Potter quit his job at Cigna as head of corporate communications and has been on a mission to revamp the healthcare system in the country ever since. Serving as a whistleblower and exposing behind-the-scenes corruption and manipulation in the dirty world of health insurance, he posted a thread on Twitter the previous week in which he explained how he had personally been a part of dishonoring Canada’s system so that Americans would think theirs was superior.

Image credits: wendellpotter

Image credits: wendellpotter

Image credits: wendellpotter

Image credits: wendellpotter

Image credits: wendellpotter

Image credits: wendellpotter

Image credits: wendellpotter

“Health insurers in the U.S. are just as driven to make a profit as ever. As long as that is the case, we will not have a system most Americans can afford,” Potter told Bored Panda.

According to him, the insurance industry has erected barriers that make it increasingly difficult for people to get the care they need when they need it to avoid paying claims and to maximize profits.

This include:

  • High deductible plans which most Americans have been forced into and which requires them to pay huge amounts of money out of their own pockets before their insurer will start paying for medical care;
  • Requiring doctors to obtain approval in advance before proceeding with treatment and even before prescribing certain medications;
  • Kicking many doctors, hospitals, and other facilities out of their provider networks;
  • People who get care from out-of-network providers (often unknowingly) are usually on the hook to pay much if not all of the resulting bills.

Image credits: wendellpotter

“These barriers are largely unknown in other healthcare systems around the world,” Potter said.

He said that slandering Canada’s system has largely damaged Americans, who have been so misled by the misinformation that they have become fearful of proposals that would make the U.S. system more like Canada’s. “As a result, hundreds of thousands of people have died prematurely and unnecessarily over the years because of a lack of access to affordable and timely care.”

“The slander also undoubtedly has been useful to right-wing organizations in Canada, such as the Vancouver-based Fraser Institute which for years has tried to dismantle the Canadian system and privatize it,” Potter explained.

Potter said the industry continues spreading the same old lies. “They [still] use fresh cherry-picked data and anecdotes that cannot be verified but which many people are willing to believe, unfortunately,” he explained. “The biggest ongoing myth the industry continues to perpetuate is that Canadians wait endlessly for needed care. They obscure the truth that there are actually more doctors per 1,000 people in Canada than in the U.S., and Canadians see their doctors considerably more often than Americans do (6.8 times a year in Canada on average versus 4 times a year in the U.S.).”

Potter highlighted that the insurance industry enlists allies to spread lies and mislead people, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Independent Business, both of which Potter used to work with when he was in the insurance industry.

“Those organizations purport to represent American businesses, small businesses especially. Their opinions do not reflect the opinions of many U.S. business leaders. I encourage people to be skeptical of anything those organizations say.”

To learn more about what the US healthcare system is and what it could be, check out Business Leaders for Health Care Transformation, an organization Potter leads that represents businesses of all sizes and types that worry about how rising healthcare costs will impact their business and their workforce. Or follow him on Twitter @wendellpotter.

Here’s what people said after reading Potter’s thread

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