Friday, July 11, 2008

Invasive Health Insurance

In 2006, I developed a number of health issues, one of of which sent me to the ER with chest pains.

My doctor ordered a stress test, which thankfully came back negative. The ol' ticker wasn't the problem, but I was pretty sure of that anyway.

The event triggered an inquiry by my health insurance company, and they stuck me in a Care Program for people with chronic issues. Even though the results were negative.

I admit I am not the healthiest person. I am overweight and I am chemically sensitive. However, no one treats me for chemical sensitivity except my acupuncturist (thank the Creator for Chinese Medicine at this time in my life).

I am pretty sure all of my issues in 2006 had to do with the installation of new carpeting in the bedroom that January, but I can't convince anyone else of that.

At any rate, now I get these aggravatingly invasive phone calls from my health insurance provider on a regular basis. An RN is on the other end.

This person wants to know how I'm doing, what my blood levels are (as if I go to the doctor every three weeks to get that checked; I think not), and if I managing my stress well.

It's a different nurse every time, and each gives you different advice. Each goes into different types of histrionics over my health care condition, as if I am going to drop over dead in the next 30 seconds because I have moderately high cholesterol. Or because I have mild asthma. Or because I'm overweight. Or whatever they happen to pick up on.

Yesterday it was my blood pressure. What is your blood pressure? the lady wanted to know. I have no idea, I said.

Well what was it the last time you had it checked.

I said I didn't know.

Well, what do you think it was?

I threw out a number. 120/90. (I honestly have no idea what it was.)

Oh, that's high. You need to go to the doctor right away (actually, that is not really a high number. I asked my husband the EMT.).

I told you I was making that up, I said. I have no idea what my blood pressure is, and even if by chance it was that when I saw the doctor in March, I HAD THE FLU and don't consider that a good yardstick.

Well, then you should go to Walmart and get your blood pressure checked right away. You need to keep an eye on that and have it done. We'll call back next week for those numbers.

I'm not going to Walmart by then, I said. I live in a rural area. I don't go to Walmart that frequently.

You can't get your blood pressure checked within the next week? She was incredulous.


Well then we'll call your doctor and get your last numbers, the nurse huffed, obviously unhappy at my unwillingness to get in my car that very moment and go have my blood pressure taken.

That's fine, I said.

To top it off, I have told them since they began calling me that I could only talk on Thursdays, and yesterday was THE FIRST TIME they actually called on a Thursday.

Last week one of them called on Tuesday just as I was headed out the door. I actually hung up on her after I told her I couldn't talk and she just kept right on asking questions.

I guess there are people who welcome this constant intrusion on their personal lives, but not me.

I want out of this horribly invasive program. I didn't ask to be in it in the first place and I find it such an invasion of my privacy that if I so much as think it's one of these nurses calling I don't answer the phone. Yesterday I wasn't paying attention when I picked up. Besides, they hadn't been calling on Thursdays!

What I don't know is if I have to be in the damn program or not in order to keep the insurance.


  1. Oh my God, this is horrible! It's like the criminal justice system...once you're in it you can never get out. The potential ramifications of this seem nightmarish to me.

  2. I wish I had advice to give, but I don't. I have never been bombarded like that. I can't stand to talk to anyone on the phone that doesn't resemble a friend or family member. I believe it seems worse to those of us working from home. We aren't eating bon-bons and WAITING for the phone to ring to fill our day, are we?

    I'm glad to see you are standing your ground.

  3. What?! I never heard of such a thing. What kind of health insurance is this? You can think of it another way--talk about service! I think my company is just hoping I drop dead...

  4. I really doubt they can drop you if you ignore the calls, or even just hang up on them.

    I've been in the health insurance/health care business for 20 years and I've never seen a policy written that would cancel you for anything other than non-payment of your premiums. Don't take my word for it, though, because they pinch pennies in new ways every day.

    We have Anthem HMO coverage through my job at Carilion. They are always trying to enroll my son in an asthma management program even though his symptoms abated a couple years ago. He does have some severe allergies, but only the mildest of asthma symptoms. We give him generic OTC Zyrtec for him and he's fine ($44 for 300 days. A bargain now that it's gone OTC! When it was prescription it was $400 a year, even with insurance.)

    So anyway, what's to manage? If you ask me, Anthem is wasting money sending us the info.

  5. I don't blame you for being annoyed--I would be, too. Even more galling is the thought that our insurance premiums are rising at an alarming rate to pay for such intrusive, waste-of-time-and-money programs.

  6. Listen, next time she calls, ask her what her full name (with spelling) is. Then, ask for her birthdate, home phone, and social security number. Proceed next to ask what hours it is convenient to phone her at home because you have questions about the results of her last pelvic exam and what does she intend to do about it.

    Then, give me the phone number. I'll take it from there.


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