Pittsburgh, PA—(ENEWSPF)—February 10, 2012. On Saturday, February 11th, members of Occupy Pittsburgh will demonstrate to take on health care giants UPMC and Highmark, two “not-for profit” insurance companies whose primary work is to ensure their own profitability.
In a match that could have been fought in a professional wrestling ring, these insurance companies recently went toe-to-toe after Highmark’s purchase of West Penn Hospital threatened UPMC’s growing monopoly on hospitals in the region. UPMC threatened to wall off patients with Highmark insurance from their network, and relented only after public pressure began to tear at UPMC’s already tattered reputation. In a way, UPMC and Highmark did the public a favor by exposing their commitment to gaining profit and power at the expense of the health and the economic well-being of their “customers.”
The Health Insurance Industry, as it currently operates, does not provide healthcare. Instead, it serves as barrier between patients and doctors, consuming billions of our premium dollars each year to pay for obscene executive salaries, marketing, and lobbying. Instead of helping to protect against the cost of illness, accident, or injury, insurance agencies function parasitically, capitalizing on people’s vulnerabilities. They increase profits by denying care and increasing premiums and out-of-pocket costs for patients. In 2011 alone, Highmark reported a $4 billion surplus and UPMC generated $406 million in profits; meanwhile premiums rose by 9%.
Premiums have risen 130% over the last decade, and the skyrocketing burden of medical bills forces one million Americans into bankruptcy each year. Never has it been clearer that our current system of health insurance has failed. Now is the time to take action and push for alternatives.
Where: Meet outside of People’s Park, then rally at UPMC (Steel Tower), and march to Highmark
When: Saturday, February 11th at 12pm
Who: Occupy Pittsburgh, Western Pennsylvania Coalition for Single-Payer Healthcare, and the 99%
What: A rally with street theater and speeches from healthcare workers, patients and activists, followed by a march from UPMC (Steel Tower) on Sixth Ave. and Grant St. to Highmark Inc. on Liberty and Fifth Ave.