Friday, November 3, 2006

Your Health or Your Wealth?

We blogged recently on the kinds of benefits most American workers prefer. But a new survey, conducted by the American Payroll Association, went a bit further: they found that most of us apparently prefer increased benefits to increased wages:

In a way, that makes sense: wages are subject to taxes, which dilutes their value; benefits are not, and so retain full value. Over 30,000 folks participated in the survey.

Cavalcade #12 - Submissions Due

Just a reminder that submissions for next week's C of R are due Monday (the 6th). Chris at MedBill Manager would love to see your work. You can submit entries:

■ via email or

■ at Blog Carnival

PLEASE include:

► Your blog's url

► Your post's url

► The trackback url (if applicable)

► A (brief) summary

PS: We're still looking for hosts. If you'd like to host a future edition, just drop us an email.

Thursday, November 2, 2006

Health Wonk Review

Terrific HWR this week, hosted by Jason Shafrin at the Health Care Economist. He includes 16 posts in 5 different categories.
Here at IB, we talk a lot about consumer empowerment, but Social Marketing and Change's Craig Lefebvre warns about the problems of consumer health illiteracy.

Better Late Than Never Department...

Apparently, this week's Carnival of the Capitalists scheduled host went AWOL, and the estimable Jay took up the cause. There are over 40 entries in this edition, each with at least some context. Bravo, Jay, Bravo!
Always a fan of "over the top" thinking, I really enjoyed Long or Short Capital's post on a, um, unique fundraising idea (all for a good cause, of course).

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Remember from the Clinton years? The "new" policy on happy people in the military?

Now the same applies to health insurance applications.


One carrier now boasts a 17 question health application vs. the old one with 50 or so. The new app is online, shorter, and supposedly 70% are approved in 48 hours.


I have yet to prove that theory.

Most apps take a 10 year look back on illness, some go back to the day you were spanked. All apps have the Final Jeapordy question . . . "is there anything else you haven't told us, even if we did not ask, that you want to say at this time?".

The apps also ask the agent do disclose anything they know that the client has not disclosed on the app.

The new app only does a 5 year look back on everything except cancer where they go back 10 years.

The Final Jeapordy question is not the new, shorter application. Neither is the agent accountability question.

So what is an agent supposed to do?

I guess it depends on what the definition of is, is . . .

Identity Theft

Why would a blog on insurance post on identity theft?

Good question. Read on.

When I logged in to create this post, I noticed my twin brother from a different mother had beat me to the punch on identity theft. His post certainly brings up a lot of valid points, and you do have to wonder why a carrier would require an FEIN or SS# just to obtain a quote, but this is even more sinister.

I picked up a copy of Readers Digest at the grocery store. Always a fun, and informative magazine, but I have not read it in a while. The cover story on medical identity theft caught my eye.

I believe it will yours as well:

medical identity theft is the last straw; after crooks steal their wallet and max out the credit cards, they turn to the health insurance card for even more freebies. "An insurance card is like a Visa card with a $1 million spending limit," says Byron Hollis, national anti-fraud director of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Stupid Carrier Tricks: Umpteenth Edition

Sometimes, it seems as if we could populate this blog exclusively with stories of the dumb things insurance companies do. Of course, we’d have to change its name, but still.

Our latest installment in this “series” comes from Anthem Blue Cross/Shield, which has notified those of us who sell their group plans of their newest requirement: when submitting a Request for Proposal, we must now include the Federal ID number (EIN) of the group in question. This is idiotic.

Why, you may ask?

Well for a number of reasons:

First, employers are no less subject to identity theft than indiviuals, but Anthem’s not requiring us to submit those when getting a quote [ed: Hush! Don’t give ‘em any ideas!]. (And, yes, most of us do quote individual products on our own PC’s, but not all agents have this ability)

Second, and IMHO, more egregious, is that this effectively shuts out competition. How so? Simple: if one is not the incumbent agent, how likely is it that a prospect (who may be a referral, or a cold call, or a friend of a friend) will be likely to part with that information simply to obtain a quote? More likely, they’ll just call their existing agent and avoid the bother.

Third, what possible reason would a carrier have to require this information simply to provide a quote? It’s just one more example of heavy handed tactics that occur when a carrier dominates a given market.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

(There, I feel better already!)

UPDATE: It gets dumber [ed: this is possible?]. Since there's no way for Anthem to verify the abovementioned EIN, why wouldn't agents simply make one up for quoting purposes? What's the worst that could happen? "Here's a new, sold case. Oh, I accidentally included an incorrect EIN with the quote request? Gee, I'm sorry."