I live and work in Florida now. For the first time in my adult life, I live in a state where there’s a real possibility that my vote in the upcoming presidential election will make a difference. As a result, when I sit down to watch TV in the evening, I see a constant barrage of the most objectionable commercials. This candidate bashing that candidate. “Facts” that aren’t facts. Claims that have been disproved over and over again. Detestable.
You may be surprised to know that THOSE commercials aren’t the ones that upset me the most! In fact, I no longer even hear or see them. I sort of gloss-over, or just get up and do something else.
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I’ve noticed, however, that during the past week, a new sort of horror has crept into TV commercial-dom. That is – health insurance plan commercials, heralding the arrival of open enrollment, and featuring all new ways to dupe the public! THOSE commercials are the ones that upset me even more.
Why? Because they feature smiling faces, they make claims that they have “thousands of doctors” in their network (they all do, or they wouldn’t be in business), or that people with their insurance can get free preventive care (we all can – it was mandated by passage of the ACA/Obamacare), or that their plans are low-cost (no they aren’t – none of those plans are low-cost), etc.
But the part that really fries me – and the impetus for today’s rant – is one insurer’s claim that their customers can enjoy free consultations with the insurer’s “care managers“… As if that is some benefit to them!
Think about this: I am newly diagnosed, I am scared, I am desperate…. and I’m going to call my “care manager” at my insurance company to help me? Isn’t that like putting Ponze in charge of my retirement account? Or putting my dog in charge of the Thanksgiving turkey?
The entire focus of health insurance companies (or any other sort of insurer) is to spend not one more penny than it needs to. When an insurer provides an advocate – or in this case a “care manager” – to an insured customer to consult with, their goal is to make sure that customer gets what he or she needs as long as it doesn’t cost them any more money, and possibly to make recommendations that will cost them less money.
It’s not about what’s good for the patient. It’s about what’s good for the insurer’s bottom line.
- They could withhold information about possible doctors or treatments that might be better for the patient if those recommendations will cost them more money.
- They might make a recommendation for something that is out-of-network, because then they don’t have to cover it.
- Their suggestions for drugs may be based on what is most cost-efficient for them, not for the patient’s co-pay.
If I’m the patient, I cannot and would not ever trust anyone who works for my insurer to give me advice about what choices to make for my own healthcare.
Which is why that health insurance commercial upsets me. Most people don’t realize this. They haven’t given it any thought. Again, they are fearful and desperate and won’t make choices with the same clear information they would otherwise make them. And they might engage with that insurance company only to set themselves up to receive bad advice.
Of course, the alternative for patients is to choose an independent advocate, one whose allegiance will be only to them. (See The Allegiance Factor.) It’s the only way any patient can be sure to get the guidance he or she needs without regard to who will make or save money from it.
Those commercials should be considered false advertising. They are leading patients down a primrose path, making promises that will not serve them well. They should be taken off the air.
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