As Long as You have Your health…

The perfect place and beverage to share some casual conversation.

If we were having a beer, you’d seem concerned about my health.

“Are you in a wellness program?”

“Why, is that a requirement for drinking here?”

“No, of course not. I was just wondering. My company just started one and it looks interesting.”

“I have access to a wellness program, but it’s not direct with our company.”

“Through your health insurer?”

“No, through the organization that provides the health insurance to our company.”

“Hey guys. Just so you know, it’s not like I’m not concerned about your health, but I am here to sell you adult beverages, barbequed chicken wings, pizza or pasta smothered in cream sauce.”

“Hi Cheryl. I’m not sure where this conversation is going, but before he condemns my poor choices, I’ll have a Yuengling.”

“And I’ll have a glass of Meiomi. So, what’s the scoop on the wellness program? I haven’t gotten any information yet.”

“I don’t know. I just keep getting the same email, reminding me that I haven’t signed up yet.”

“Why haven’t you signed up?”

“Because I don’t want to share that information with an unrelated third-party.”

“I wouldn’t call them unrelated.”

“They aren’t family. They aren’t my doctor. They aren’t even my health insurer. They’re basically an insurance broker. How many degrees of separation are required before they become unrelated?”

“I guess you have a point. Still they seem interested in your health.”

“They’re interested in my data.”

“Like what?”

“They want me to start a calorie journal. And they want me to keep an exercise journal. And they want me to use their ‘Meal Planner and Nutrition Tracker’ to help me decide what to eat.”

“That is a lot of tracking.”

“I know! I don’t tell my wife some of that stuff.”

“Still, it sounds like they are interested in keeping you healthy.”

“I’m sure they’d like me to file fewer claims, but they also want to gather a lot of information, and then sell it.”

“Who would want to buy your data?”

“Before you answer that, here’s your beer and here’s your wine. Can I interest you in some free-range wings dripping with a 100% organic barbeque sauce?”

“I think you’re stretching the truth a bit, Cheryl.”

“So is that insurance broker, but your buddy seems to be buying it.”

“Maybe, but I’m not buying the beer, the wine or the wings. I bought the last time. I’m also interested in my fiscal well-being.”

“Yet another euphemism for ‘cheap’ – fine, I’ll buy. Bring us some wings Cheryl, ten barbeque and ten teriyaki.”

“Coming right up. You want some Lipitor on the side?”

“Ha – no thanks.”

“So, back to my question. Who cares about your health data?”

“The insurance company, the pharmaceutical companies, Walgreens, CVS, Amazon…”

“…Amazon? What makes you think they care?”

“I get a fifty-dollar Amazon gift card for starting my health journals.”

“That’s just an incentive from the insurance folks. You can understand why they want to keep you healthy.”

“The agreement I would sign when I join the wellness program allows them to share my data with their partners. Amazon is one of their partners.”

“I still don’t see why Amazon cares?”

“Advertising. If they know what I eat, what I do for exercise and how often I exercise, they can target specific ads to me.”

“I never thought of that, but then again, you don’t exercise.”

“I don’t go to a gym. I ride an exercise bike at home.”

“So, Amazon might care, but they already know a lot about you.”

“They will never have enough. The pharmaceutical companies, and the people who manage the prescription insurance plans are also happy to kickback some bucks for that kind of data.”

“To an insurance broker?”

“Those guys will give money to anyone. Your doctor, your drugstore, your congressman, anyone but you.”

“To be honest, I haven’t had many health issues, so I haven’t followed this stuff very closely. I just assumed that all these companies have the same goal – keeping me healthy.”

“Oh, they have the same goal, taking your money.”

“I think you’re being a little cynical.”

“Have you heard about the law banning clawbacks?”

“Claw – backs? What the heck is a claw back?”

“That’s when you get stuck paying a twenty-dollar co-pay on a prescription that would retail for eight bucks.”

“Who would do that?”

“You would, if you didn’t know the prescription could be filled for eight bucks.”

“Why wouldn’t I know?”

“Because your pharmacist signed an agreement not to tell you the cash price, unless you specifically ask.”

“OK, here are the wings. Ten barbeque and ten Teriyaki. Each order of ten is eleven dollars. I should have told you that you could have ordered twenty for nineteen dollars.”

“Cheryl!”

“Not to worry, I’m giving you the lower price. You want another round?”

“I’d like another beer.”

“I think I’ll switch to Bourbon. All this talk about kickbacks, clawbacks and data is making me crazy.”

“In a snifter, ice on the side.”

“Excellent, Cheryl. You really do take good care of us.”

“I do. My only kickbacks come in the form of tips…hint, hint.”


86 thoughts on “As Long as You have Your health…

Add yours

  1. I’m going to sidestep the main point of your post (corporate greed and health care and no, btw, you are not cynical) and focus on this quote: “I know! I don’t tell my wife some of that stuff.”

    I smiled when I read that, imagining the editor’s reaction. Enjoy your weekend, Dan.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Cynical? Sure, but that just means you are speaking from experience. My corporate experience included sitting in on benefits meetings and board meetings, and let me assure you they ‘all’ care about your health because it hits their bottom line. I use to think Walmart was going to be the last company standing, but now I’m thinking it is gong to be Amazon. Have a great weekend, give Maddie a pat. :-)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Judy. Judging from the news at the end of the week, CVS wants to corner this market. I know they all care, and I know why. Given the uncertainty of the laws, I worry about how much information they have, and how much more they want.

      Like

    1. Thanks Joanne. There are so many people involved in the process that I never see and that deliver no health care to me. My doctors are frustrated by all that they have to do, and how they know their fees will be questioned and cut. I’m not a fan of someone with a degree in accounting making medical decisions on my behalf..

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This holds true for all sorts of industries. I see ads tailored to me pop up on FB all the time. Our insurance company requires that we have a yearly physical to get a discount, but that’s fine and good for us to do anyway. But the one we had before this had all sorts of bells and whistles to try to get more information from us.

    BTW, I see you’re using a 1:05 am post time occasionally now. Where’d you get that number and is it working better for you? :-)

    janet

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think we are moving to a new health insurance next year. I will be happy if we do. The actual insurance company I have has been awful to deal with. I would think that if you were going to contact a policyholder that had been transported to the ER by ambulance, you might start with “we hope you’re feeling better” – I got “it seems you may have misused your insurance.” They were certain that I had been involved in an accident and that a different insurer would be responsible.

      I accidentally hit 2:04 on one post, and I noticed that many of the European readers responded much earlier. So, if I remember, I use 2:04 instead of 6:04. The :04 is just habit.

      Like

    1. Thanks! Some states had already banned that practice (clawback). I think CT passed a law that will take effect on January 1, 2018. Insurance companies contract with “pharmaceutical managers” to handle the prescription side of your benefits. One is CVS – who now wants to buy AEtna. It’s unclear where the extra $12 goes if you pay a $20 copay on an $8 prescription. Those amounts are a real example that a friend of mine just discovered.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m so cynical I think they’ll use that information about you to use against you and not pay your claims. It’s getting creepy how much information they want about people, and I’m less and less confident in the Internet of All Things being the wisest choice to store all that data.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m with you Deborah. The amount of data is amazing, and the ability to manipulate it is getting stronger and stronger every day. One creepy example is the use of beacons. If you use a retail store app, they know when you pause and (probably) look at items, but walk away without buying. They can match that up with what you do buy. They are adding more and more features to entice you to use the apps, but the larger purpose is lost on most consumers.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Everything boils down to data, Dan, for a profit. Powerful post and one that many really need to sit up and take notice of. Not to digress but I give you one small example. I went to a church to “see” if it “fit” and unfortunately I gave out our home address. A few days later I received a letter from someone I did not know who said how sorry she was for my Mother’s loss but …. she was selling her “religion”. *sigh* I’ve come to an age that if I don’t know by now what is right and healthy for me, then I am in big trouble. I’ve become very cautious as to who I give out any information to. And hey I’m with you. Don’t give out your data. When you become obsessive about how many calories you consume, you are done in for. That just took the JOY of eating away. Dang! GREAT WRITE!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Amy. That example is a good one. I’m becoming very protective of data that doesn’t seem to have a transactional purpose. I’m also becoming less shy about telling people why I don’t want to give them the data. Sometimes, it’s none of their business.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Good for him! Some states already ban the practice. It seems criminal to me, I don’t see why we have to have laws to prevent overcharging like this. It also doesn’t seem like we should have to know these things. We pay a lot of premium, you’d like to think we would be treated honestly.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Please don’t get me started…I may have to excuse myself from serving and have a shot of your friend’s favorite whiskey. Did you know that when you sign up for the uber convenient, super- sized Jetson new age health portal, it does exactly what it says it does (if you read the fine print), allowing every doctor, every hospital or medical agency, insurance carrier and pharmacy you give your name to, to be able to access all of your health history anytime? This means that any doctor you see can go into your pharmacy records and see any medications you have been on since signing up, perhaps even before. And by doctors, I also mean their assistants, office staff, anyone who knows how to use the portal. I am waiting for the day they stop asking if I want to use the black hole and refuse to see me unless I sign up.
    “What do you want!?”
    “Information, Number 6. We want INformation…”
    God, let me out of the bubble.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I figured you would chime in Cheryl :-)

      I joined the portal at the hospital I was treated in, because it was the only way I could see the test results. I read the fine print, and they seem to be a little more concerned about my privacy. I like that I can block a doctor if I change to a different practice. All of these things have a good side to them, but they all have a dark-side too – I wonder where the healthcare Jedis are.

      Like

      1. Sadly, Dan, I think they are gone-like Obi Wan, or are hiding in the hills like Luke Skywalker. There seem to be no young Jedis willing to trade trust in the convenience of techno-world to the standards of morality and the protection of human rights. Remember, techno savvy does not equate to the wisdom of experience. We taught our children but not everyone of our age has done so. They will make many serious errors I fear. I am glad to hear your portal experience was a good one. Much depends on the scruples of the practice and how well informed patients are. Most folks don’t have your and my hubby’s tenacity for reading the fine print.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I avoided the portals, but this one is run by the hospital, and they seem much more conscious of the privacy concerns that the insurance companies. And, I’m not planning to allow my insurer access, unles sI have to. I don’t think I will have to, since the portal is optional…for now.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I had a patient whose doctor sent him in for an eye check to make sure he doesn’t have glaucoma (at 63 with no family history) so he could ‘check that box off on my form’. Everyone gets a piece of the pie.

            Liked by 1 person

  7. It really is remarkable how quickly the calories can add up. They’re everywhere, especially in those over-the-top frappe drinks that are so popular. Moderation is hard, but so essential — along with some salads and regular exercise. And the occasional Yuengling, of course! Cheers, Dan.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I was in charge of our company health and wellness program for many years. But then it got too expensive….cause you know–money trumps employee health. I would not fill out all the required info. This was for a different medical group than I use and I didn’t think they needed to know all my personal info. Ha! And I was in charge…!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha – that’s funny, Lois. I don’t blame you. I am (finally) starting to ask “why do you need to know this?”

      However, sooner or later, they won’t give us insurance if we don’t pony up to having that beer and that donut.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Interesting and funny, Dan, since I just went through the process in September of getting a wellness screening at work and completing a wellness assessment on-line. I’ve done it for a few years because the result is a $150 Visa card in my wallet. I’m sure the information from the on-line assessment is going to the insurance company and some people get so worried about that that they don’t participate. I’m not that way, but perhaps it’s because I’m fairly healthy and I usually need that card for Christmas expenses, like cookie ingredients. It comes in handy.

    Anyhow, the wings and beer sound good. Enjoy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The programs are designed to lower health insurance costs by keeping you healthy, but the practices around the gathering, handling and using the data is what bothers me. That’s what I do for a living, and I see how pervasive it is becoming and how not every “partner” belongs in the mix and how many don’t have my best interest as a goal. Did you tell them you tool the $150 to bake cookies? I’m not sure they would like that ;-)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hey, I try to make my cookies as healthy as possible. My peanut butter chocolate chip cookie is gluten-free, made with organic peanut butter, 80% dark chocolate chips and I replace part of the sugar with stevia. They are delicious. So there!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. That sounds like sound advice, John. I aim for moderation, and I try to avoid some really bad stuff. Somehow, I doubt that meals prepared in a distant location and shipped to me via UPS is really my healthiest choice.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. The Mister is involved in some sorta thing like that from work, too. Two health checks a year, incentives for using wellness apps, joining a gym, blah blah, I don’t know. It’s alright, he’s kinda into it. Counting steps and checking his BMI, bragging about his walking pace, complaining his wife cooks too well. *sigh*
    I DO know about claw-backs, although, I’d never heard the phrase. I learned to ask this stuff when we moved here and I went to pick up Moo’s nasal spray which for all pricing suggestion, would imply it was made of guilded cocaine, but of course, it was NOT. My friend in pharmacy taught me all about it. For instance, Moo’s allergy nigh nigh pill was $5 with our old insurance, it’s $25 with our new insurance and $18 without any insurance. Well, duh. Of course, that’s at CVS — prices vary elsewhere. Like $150 at Walgreens. So annoying. What else on earth is priced like this?!? Can you imagine?
    Ugh, I hope you enjoyed your wings and beer.
    PS: What’s privacy?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wrote a reply to this yesterday, but I was on a plane and the WiFi stopped. I thought I had snuck it in, but, no. It was a brilliant comment, too. This one wont be as good.

      Prices change from week to week at some stores. I got a refill for the NSAID cream that I use. My prescription allowed generics, which I didn’t want. I took it back (after the Mrs noticed, because I don’t look at stuff). He said I’d have to get a new script or pay cash. I paid cash and the price was lower.

      It shouldn’t be this hard to get the stuff you need to live, or at least live comfortably. I remember the year my daughter had to have neck surgery. She was doing all the preliminary stuff, x-rays, MRIs, etc. and she cruised through her deductible early in the year. She got a letter from the insurance company that said: “You appear to be a spender, not a saver…”

      BTW, when I tried to post this comment, WordPress said “this comment could not be poster” – this is my blog, isn’t it?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Letter from insurance is unacceptable! I am galled! :O
        I sometimes get This comment could not be posted. I copy, refresh, paste and click Submit and it goes. That’s taken a lot of trial and error to discover.
        Stupid plane wifi. You’d think sky wifi would be tops!

        Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m going through the same BS with my Medicare Advantage provider, who I actually like very much. All my prescriptions are at Walgreens (guy from Chicago, of course I’m going to them, plus they’re closer), and now Aetna is telling me they’re not a “preferred” pharmacy for 2018. Who’s “preferred”? CVS and Walmart, of course. I have both near me, so it’s no big deal distance-wise, but it is a logistical thing–none of our “pig trails” pass either one, so we’re kind of going out of our way to use either. I’m left in the position of finding out what the penalty is (i.e. cost differential) for staying with the devil I know rather than going through the exercise of switching everything only to have to switch back next year when Walgreens becomes a “preferred” pharmacy again…

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Medicare plans have a rule I discovered for lab tests that they will pay x amount for each lab test and if your copay is more than the amount Medicare says it will pay they have to refund the difference. And they do refund it, the insurance plan refunds the difference.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Hi Dan – I think … I’m going to pass on this – and just have a beer, which is good for my health … I’ll wait til later on though! Data … sadly is a horrible evil … for now – cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I won’t fill out any of those wellness surveys. If they found out what I really eat and how little I really exercise, they might cancel the insurance. That’s probably the whole point anyway – weeding out those that might actually need the insurance at some point.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ultimately, I do worry a bit about that. It’s hard to know where the laws are going to land on those issues. I just feel there’s no need for them to know. I can look up healthy options and if I can’t I listen to my wife :)

      Liked by 1 person

  14. You hit it perfectly…..its all about the money. My wife actually came across the “clawbacks”….the good news is, she knows about them and knew to ask….gotta say the Pharmacist was surprised, but took care of it. The wellness programs popped up with my former employer before I retired….I took the same approach you are taking until they got smart and pegged the cost of the premiums to participating in the wellness program.

    You can have all of the material things in the world, but without health……

    Great Post!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Kirt. I didn’t know about the clawbacks until I paid cash for a non-generic product and it was less than the covered generic. The pharmacist didn’t explain (because I didn’t ask) but my best friend explained this mess to me.

      We get extra benefits for participation in some aspects of the wellness program but it doesn’t affect premium, yet.

      Liked by 2 people

  15. I’m so glad we don’t have to take this anymore, Dan! They were on me with email messages about timely colonoscopy and breast smashing appointments. I think this is valuable to people who have breast cancer in their family or colon cancer. I had my fifty year old checkups almost 12 years ago. . .
    Now, eyes, teeth and skin are the three doctors I go to. . .
    Someone was complaining that once they found out their BMI wasn’t good and they were still smoking their deductibles we’re going to go up unless they took steps to improve these habits. I do think when someone has a challenge in their life which effects medical care, it could be considered helpful for all of us, who share the costs. Just a perspective and opinion. . .

    Liked by 1 person

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