Last Tango in Hartford
By Walt Raleigh
I changed jobs not all that long ago, and that, of course, meant a new insurance company.
Imrelatively used to dealing with insurance companies by now. Both of myparents had chronic illnesses to deal with, and my wife is, thank God,a cancer survivor (thanking God, of course, for the survivor part andnot the cancer.) I learned more than I ever wanted to know aboutinsurance-negotiating hardball during her illness and recovery.
So a little old thing like type 2 diabetesis like slow-pitch softball compared to some of the heat-seekingmissiles that have come smoking across home plate in recent years.
I've been an independent consultant for much of my career, and so I know what it is to be underinsured - crappy coverage for high prices,if you can get coverage at all. Ive got a good private insurance planwith the new job, and dont think I dont realize how fortunate I am.
Perhaps youll think Im churlish for making the complaint Im about to make. So be it.
Mynew insurance company did something last week that ticked me off. Theydid a little computerized data-mining on my medical records, came tothe utterly reasonable conclusion that I was a diabetic, andhelpfully enrolled me in their diabetes-management program, with oneof their partners without asking me, or notifying me, until theenrollment package (since Im already enrolled, per their decision,this baffles me a bit) came in the mail.
Heres what thatamounts to: They shared my private medical information, without myconsent, with another company, to whom they have subcontracted out thejob of trying to make me a less expensive insurance customer.
As a participant in the program, registered nurses from the insurance company's partner would periodically call me at home to check on my progress and offer me advice and encouragement. I could, of course, the letter informed me, "opt out."
SoI called the insurance company on the morning of the next business day,skipped past the press 1 for this, press 2 for that business (Tipfrom Uncle Walt: Check hereto see whether theres a known method for bypassing voice-jail foryour insurance carrier) and got a helpful attendant on the phone,whereupon I notified her that I was opting out of their free diabetesmanagement program.
She wanted to know why. It was free, afterall, and could help me manage my illness. (At least she had the commonsense not to tell me that it was for my own good.)
I told herthat it was simple: If they wanted me to participate in such a program,they needed to ask first and secure my consent, especially before theystarted sharing my private information with other companies.
I have a metabolic disorder, and I have it well under control with my own medical team.
Itsnot a form of cognitive impairment: diabetes doesnt affect my abilityto think or make decisions for myself, and I resent being treated as ifit does.
After all, if I want unsolicited medical advice from meddling busybodies, Ive got relatives for that, like everyone else.
dLife'sDaily Living columnists are not all medical experts, but everydaypeople living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences.While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyoneis different. Please consult with your diabetes care team to find outwhat will work best for you.
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