J. Patrick Rooney, health savings account pioneer, insurance executive and harsh critic of hospital billing practices, has died at age 80.
Rooney was chairman and chief executive officer of family-owned Golden Rule Insurance Co., of Lawrenceville, Ill., from 1976 to 2005. He sold the health insurer to UnitedHealth Group for $893 million in 2003.
He successfully lobbied Congress to make medical savings accounts tax-deductible in 1996. He founded Medical Savings Insurance Co. of Indianapolis to sell MSAs in 1995, and made a run for governor of Indiana that same year. Medical savings accounts, the forerunners of health savings accounts, were aimed at the self-employed.
A longtime critic of hospital billing practices, he clashed with large hospital chains such as Tenet Healthcare Corp. and HCA over collection practices. Rooney was until his death chairman and president of the Indianapolis-based Fairness Foundation, which operates the Hospital Victims Project, aimed at curbing hospital overcharges.
Rooney told Newsweek in 2004 about his drive to replace traditional health insurance with health savings accounts: Im doing the right thing, and I think the Lord will be pleased about it. -- by Rebecca Vesely
What do you think? Post a comment on this article and share your opinion with other readers. Submit your comments to Modern Healthcare Online at [email protected]. Please be sure to include your hometown and state, along with your organization and title.