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EXCLUSIVE: Major Health Insurer Pressures Employees To Lobby Against California’s Single-Payer Bill

California could become the first state to establish a single-payer health care program and limit the use of private insurance plans. 

By Libby Rainey

America’s largest for-profit health insurer is pressuring its employees to speak out against a landmark bill that would establish a single-payer health care system in California, according to documents shared with More Perfect Union.

On Tuesday, UnitedHealth Group sent an email to its employees urging them to “take action” against the California health care legislation. The bill to establish universal coverage in the nation’s most populous state has picked up steam in the new year, with the California Assembly set to vote on the issue within the week. 

If the legislation becomes law, California would become the first state in the nation to establish a single-payer health care program and limit the use of private insurance plans. 

According to a current UnitedHealth employee, the company emailed a letter opposing single-payer health care that was pre-filled with the employee’s name and address. The letter, in the case of at least one employee, was addressed to state Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, a cosponsor of the single-payer legislation Assembly Bill 1400.

“They basically made it really easy to just hit send,” the employee said.

UnitedHealth claimed in its email that it wants to “help protect access to high-quality, affordable health care for all Californians.” But more than 3.2 million Californians are currently uninsured — about 1 in 10 state residents under age 65.

A single-payer health care plan would extend coverage to those people while eliminating the overhead and administrative costs of for-profit insurance, and it would stop UnitedHealth and other private insurers from profiting off of sick people. 

UnitedHealth is the nation’s largest health insurance corporation, generating roughly $287 billion in revenue in 2021. The company’s revenue tripled from 2010 to 2021 and profits quadrupled even as millions of Americans struggled to pay medical bills during the pandemic.

The UnitedHealth employee told us that the company sent the email against single-payer health care “not because they are truly concerned, but because it would take away their profits from their premiums for their horrible benefits.”

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