Nunya

Monday, March 24, 2014
So, my 90 day probation period with my new employer is over, and I became eligible for benefits on March 1st. This new gig doesn't offer Kaiser as an option, so after 18 years, I actually had to "pick a doctor," and "manage my insurance."

Picking a doctor was not really an issue, as the woman who does my botox is also a family practitioner, and specializes in mood disorders.

But this "managing my insurance" is giving me high blood pressure.

I've never worked for a company that was nosier about my lifestyle and existing health metrics. They have a contract with a health management firm who pesters me about every aspect of my life. "What's your BMI? What are your metabolic health values? How often do you exercise? Do you eat vegetables? How often?"* 

They then use these metrics to assign you a "healthy living score," which they provide to my employer, while simultaneously swearing up and down that "We would never share your private health information with your employer, OF COURSE WE WOULDN'T."

Failure to comply with this rude invasion of my privacy and questionable workaround of the HIPAA laws results in a $250.00 monthly increase in my premium, in addition to the not-inconsiderable amounts I already pay for coverage and my Health Savings Account.

These shenanigans are supposedly used to help employees achieve better health, but anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of statistics and risk management knows where this is going. There's not a doubt in my military mind that my "healthy living score" will be used to set my premiums moving forward. A failure to control my weight, the emergence of a chronic condition, or poor metabolic health will result in higher premiums. And that whole "opting out" option? I suspect that will eventually disappear, and if you want health insurance of any kind, baring your medical record to some go-between who works for your employer and not you will be mandatory.

As a dirty, dirty liberal, I consider the whole "health care for profit" model to be deeply immoral, and I'm willing to pay additional taxes to nationalize our health care system. If everyone is guaranteed some minimum standard of care, there's no need to target those people who have Type 1 diabetes, or mental health issues, or a history of cancer in their family. You just provide the appropriate care for these conditions, and if people want supplemental insurance for a higher standard of care, they're welcome to purchase it.

But the idea of the health insurance industry - not my doctor, the industry - having unfettered access to my medical record chaps my ass. Because it's truly, fundamentally, NUNYA.

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*The only they didn't ask was how often I had sex, but I'm hopeful they'll include details on that next year!

7 comments:

mom in northern said...

That IS the long and the short of it.

Laura said...

Amen sister. Single payer all the way!!

Bill Ward said...

And that's not the only area where corporate data collection is beginning to intrude into our lives. My auto insurance company is now trying to persuade me to put a data collection and reporting device on my car, ostensibly giving me a 5% discount on my insurance rates by helping them to determine my "safe driving" patterns. Seems to make sense, but what a lot of people don't realize is that it routinely collects all kinds of additional information that go far beyond just "excessive speeding" and "total miles driven". I have a little experience in this area. Since the early 90's I used to help design and program these little devices for the truck industry. We learned early on that by tweaking some of the parameters that were used to measure "panic stops" (i.e., sudden decelerations) we could determine statistically, the likelihood that your vehicle might have an accident, even if you were an extremely safe and cautious driver (it was determining the overall safety of the routes that were being driven, irregardless of whether you had an accident or not). The rub is that the data that is being collected reports much more often for the safe driver than it does for an aggresive driver who is zipping in and out of traffic lanes. If you stop to think about it, aggressive drivers contribute to many more accidents than they actually get into, yet the insurance companies are only interested in the likelihood that any vehicle will be in an accident (risk management of their profits). One might think that, "there's no way an insurance company would try to collect and amass such a huge volume of data", but the surprising reality is that, because it's based on exception reporting, it was quite easy, even 20 years ago to keep and store a lifetime of this type of data in an extremely small file (less than 1K per vehicle lifetime). One day these data streams from your vehicle will be so ubiquitous that you won't even be asked whether you want to opt out or not.

Janiece said...

Bill, the ubiquitous of "big data" in every aspect of my life is more than a little disturbing. The very fact that I have an on-line presence means that there is TONS of data out there about me, "owned" by who the fuck knows, used for their own nefarious purposes.

I'm under no illusions that these "owners" have my best interest in mind.

Bill Ward said...

Spooky, isn't it. I told my wife the other day we need to "get off the grid" and she said, "Honey, you've been off your grid for a long time now." Guess that means I'm safe.

Jeri said...

My company did this 3 years ago. It made me furious and I opted out, to my expense. :/

Steve Buchheit said...

Most companies have wellness programs and they're all pretty nefarious. I suspect that pretty soon you BMI will also be applied to how much premium you pay in the same way smoking is now. And they won't just collect information on how many times you're having sex, they'll have to have an informative program with brown-bag lunch meetings to discuss options to make your sex life healthier. I'm only partially kidding.