Last Tango in Hartford
How insurance companies make life interesting for diabetics.
By Walt Raleigh
I changed jobs not all that long ago, and that, of course, meant I couldn't keep my insurance company.
I’m relatively used to dealing with insurance companies by now. Both of my parents had chronic illnesses to deal with, and my wife is, thank God, a cancer survivor (thanking God, of course, for the “survivor” part and not the cancer.) I learned more than I ever wanted to know about insurance-negotiating hardball during her illness and recovery.
So a little old thing like type 2 diabetes is like slow-pitch softball compared to some of the heat-seeking missiles 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. My health insurance now is a good private plan with the new job, and don’t think I don’t realize how fortunate I am.
Perhaps you’ll think I’m churlish for making the complaint I’m about to make. So be it.
My new insurance company did something last week that ticked me off. They did a little computerized data-mining on my medical records, came to the utterly reasonable conclusion that I was a diabetic, and “helpfully” enrolled me in their diabetes-management program, with one of their “partners”… without asking me, or notifying me, until the “enrollment package” (since I’m already “enrolled,” per their decision, this baffles me a bit) came in the mail.
Here’s what that amounts to: They shared my private medical information, without my consent, with another company, to whom they have subcontracted out the job of trying to make me a less expensive insurance customer.
As a participant in the program, registered nurses from my 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."
So I called the insurance company on the morning of the next business day, skipped past the “press 1 for this, press 2 for that” business (Tip from Uncle Walt: Check here to see whether there’s a known method for bypassing “voice-jail” for your insurance carrier) and got a helpful attendant on the phone, whereupon I notified her that I was opting out of their free diabetes management program.
She wanted to know why. It was free, after all, and could help me manage my illness. (At least she had the common sense not to tell me that it was for my own good.)
I told her that it was simple: If they wanted me to participate in such a program, they needed to ask first and secure my consent, especially before they started sharing my private information with other companies.
I have a metabolic disorder, and I have it well under control with my own medical team.
It’s not a form of cognitive impairment: diabetes doesn’t affect my ability to think or make decisions for myself, and I resent being treated as if it does.
After all, if I want unsolicited medical advice from meddling busybodies, I’ve got relatives for that, like everyone else.
dLife's Daily Living columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team to find out what will work best for you.
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