Truthiness-Meter, Pt. Deux


August 4, 2009 by billie789

Health insurance companies are “making record profits, right now.”


“President Barack Obama has often argued that health insurance companies need more competition, and he’s proposed a public option for health insurance to provide it.

There have been reports just over the last couple of days of insurance companies making record profits, right now,” Obama said during a prime-time news conference. “At a time when everybody’s getting hammered, they’re making record profits, and premiums are going up. What’s the constraint on that? … Well, part of the way is to make sure that there’s some competition out there.”

We wanted to know if he was correct that insurance companies are making record profits during one of the worst economic recessions on record.

It seems likely that Obama was referring to the latest earnings report from UnitedHealth Group, one of the largest publicly traded health insurance companies. The day before Obama’s news conference, UnitedHealth had announced unexpectedly robust profits that prompted the company to revise its annual earnings guidance upwards.

There are many ways to look at a company’s earnings, but Obama said “profits,” so we looked at net income, which is revenue minus expenses. For the quarter, UnitedHealth earned $859 million. But that’s not a record for quarterly net income. During the same period in 2007, for example, its net income was $1.23 billion.

We reviewed the income statements of the other largest publicly traded health insurance companies — WellPoint, Aetna, Cigna, Humana and Coventry Health Care — and found similar trends. Generally speaking, profits were  higher during 2007 and 2006, before the economy began its slide. So Obama’s modifier “record” does not appear to be correct.”

13 thoughts on “Truthiness-Meter, Pt. Deux

  1. torqdog says:

    Health reform is in major trouble. It was recently announced that the Democrat’s new “spin” to coincide with Congress on recess and home to Town Halls and unruly mobs, will be to demonize the Insurers in an attempt to deflect criticism from the actual Bills circulating through both houses. Looks like the timing of this thread fits right in line with that “spin”.

    Fancy that!

  2. bill says:

    I admit to having no idea what you’re talking about with the “timing of this thread” or any “spin” associated with it. Last week I posted a Truthiness Meter about healthcare misinformation being put out by the right. This thread is a moderation back to the other side of the aisle.

  3. torqdog says:

    I just find it ironic that a week or two after it was announced that Obama and the Dems were changing tactics and will start attacking and demonizing private insurers, you pull this thread out of your hat. That’s the “timing of this thread” factor and your trumpeting of the lastest white house “spin” as well. Maybe it’s simple coincidence……. maybe not.

    Read about it here, an automatically generated link to your post;

  4. bill says:

    Randy, I think you are misunderstanding this thread. It’s a direct quote from saying that Obama made an error in saying that “Healthcare Companies Are Making Record Profits.” The article goes on to list specific companies and earnings.

    It’s taking issue with statements he’s made about healthcare companies and record profits.

    Jesus! Look at the meter! Read the article. Focus. Breathe. Comment.

  5. torqdog says:

    Bill. I think you’re missing the point I’m trying to make here…… it has nothing to do with whether or not Obama got nailed on some technical foul on your “meter”. It just amazes me that within a week or two of the announced changing of strategies on health care reform where Obama and the Dems are now attacking and demonizing the evil private insurers, you start a thread where Obama is…….. seen……… sort of……… like ………. attacking and demonizing the evil private insurers (health insurance companies). Is it coincidence? Only you know for sure.

    Knock-knock…….can you hear me now?!!! ;-)

  6. bill says:

    This is ridiculous, Randy. I have no idea what you’re talking about. The web site I use and credit for the Truth Meter spotlights current events and does a Truth Meter thing on it. There were several topics there and I chose this one. Last week, I chose a right-wing talking point against healthcare reform to highlight on the meter.

    I don’t get the whole “timing” thing if my post is critical of Obama. How in the world did you twist that around to mean that it’s some kind of coincidence or purposeful ploy on my part? That only I know? (You still listen to Art Bell or somethin’?) I understand that Obama’s administration has taken a more aggressive stance about healthcare reform. You say it was announced two weeks ago…ok, so what?

    I posted a deconstruct on one of Obama’s talking points. How is that serendipitous with the new tactics used by the W.H.?

    Where’s the conspiracy, dude?

  7. torqdog says:

    I give up……. you’re hopeless! What I’m talking about is the fact that you seem to post things in a timely manner as it relates to left wing talking points. Your Tea-bagger obsession a few months back was a perfect example of this as is this “timely” posting of this “meter” thing where Obama is talking about those evil Insurers. “Timely” as it relates to the new course the left is taking on it’s health reform talking points.

    I guess it’s a “timely” thing to bring this up now……. seems I remember a couple three months ago, you, after one of our political brawls, saying something to the effect of wanting to get politics away from this forum. I think I remember you using the word “lighthearted” when it comes to material you prefer to see posted here and the vision you had at the time was that if anyone was interested in political matters, “there are plenty of political sites” available elsewhere. Trying to respect your wish, I’ve for the most part refrained from posting things of a political nature except maybe the Chris Rock video and a post in the healthcare thread. Now it seems you wanna play ball again as witnessed by these two “meter” threads.

    So which is it Bro?

    Confused in Carson City :-) (not really but it sounded good!)

    PS; I do hope that you wanna play ball because there is a ton of shiat out there that I could be posting. ;-)

  8. Stu says:

    I think we wanted to scale back and/or take a breather from the political thing because we were becoming rather narrowly focused. I don’t know that we ever planned on completely avoiding politics…we just needed to lighten up a bit and start having a little more fun here. Which we did.

    As long as we take issue with the posts – and not the poster – I’m quite ok with politics here. I enjoy reasoned debate. And I’m all for being timely too. I mean, don’t you think political posts should be relevant to current events? When would a healthcare reform post be more relevant than now? Or the teabaggers post…makes the most sense to post it when the teabagger thing was going on…or am I missing something?

  9. bill says:

    I’m not going to post anything on this blog with one eye on the keyboard and the other on someone waiting to pounce. I’d rather not post about politics. I think that’s a stupid reality, but I’m ok with it.

    The meter thing is a bi-partisan web site that researches and tracks statements made by political leaders and pundits about current event topics. There’s no vast conspiracy to spin stuff that’s…current!

    Last week, I posted about healthcare scare tactics from the right and this week misinformation from the left.

    I thought I was trying to be fair about it and intended to share a story from each side on alternating weeks. There’s plenty to go around.

    And look what happened.

    Let’s move on.

  10. Jane says:

    sooooo, articulation is relative……. ;)

  11. Stu says:

    Apparently the American Medical Association has weighed in on the proposed universal health care plan.

    The Allergists voted to scratch it, but the Dermatologists advised not to make any rash moves. The Gastroenterologists had sort of a gut feeling about it, and the Neurologists thought the Administration had a lot of nerve.

    The Obstetricians felt they were all laboring under a misconception. Ophthalmologists considered the idea shortsighted. Pathologists yelled; “Over my dead body!” while the Pediatricians said, ‘Oh, Grow up!”

    The Psychiatrists thought the whole idea was madness, while the radiologists could see right through it. Surgeons decided to wash their hands of the whole thing. The Internists thought it was a bitter pill to swallow, and the Plastic Surgeons said, “This puts a whole new face on the matter.”

    The Podiatrists thought it was a step forward, but the Urologists were pissed off at the whole idea. The Anesthesiologists thought the wild idea was a gas, and the Cardiologists didn’t have the heart to say no. In the end, the Proctologists won out, leaving the entire decision up to the a–holes in Washington!

    -borrowed from another website

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