Thursday, November 4, 2010

When Sharks Smell Blood

Vintage Ad #914: Free Milk Mug from the Pillsb...Image by jbcurio via Flickr
It was my bad. I failed to follow my own advice. I routinely warn friends about random clicking on websites, because we rarely know where our information is being received. Worse, many sites track our every move. If I ate all the cookies that websites set, I'd look something like the Michelin Man. It's bad enough I'm challenging the Pillsbury Doughboy.
This past Tuesday, I spent some time researching private health insurance. My COBRA benefits from my most recent employer will expire next month, so it's time to get information for continuing medical coverage. I visited the usual websites,;; AARP, Aetna, Cigna, etc. Here's the catch: Before they'll provide an "online" quote, they need to gather some information. Heaven forbid your height and weight don't line up against the charts or you have a rash that requires a prescription ointment. I acknowledge that I'll never make the cover the annual Fireman's Calendar. I am not blessed with a poster child physique. I like to think of myself as vertically challenged. And forget about "neglecting" to mention a pre-existing condition. Good luck getting a prescription covered for that minor lapse of memory.

After I filled in the information, thinking there were still a few steps remaining, I made my fatal error. Mouse click. Within five minutes my phone started ringing. Endlessly. One call after another with "good news, we found a plan that will take pity on your soul and cover you." The price range came in from $571 to $1600 monthly, depending on whether I wanted band-aid coverage or something more complicated like sterile gauze. At this point, I felt obligated to add another pre-existing condition: spontaneous heart attack. Health care reform? Honestly, I don't give a damn who is right or who is wrong. But Nancy Reagan's "just say no" campaign is not the answer to anything beside the war on drugs. Perhaps we can agree the status quo is not acceptable, and healthcare and the economy are connected at the hip. Or the thigh bone. You can finish it from this point.

Some of these online "brokers" were offering legitimate, if not absurdly priced products. Others were straight out fraud. Prenegotiated fees arranged by the bartering company. It isn't insurance. You pay 100% of their negotiated price. And you have the privilege of paying the barter company $450 a month for their negotiating skills. I'm not a health care expert, but I'm confident many people are being cheated out of their remaining funds.

The irony in this, is that a part of me finds this lead generation fascinating. For three months, I was promised "leads" by an Electrical Energy Provider as I tried to sell this commodity to area businesses. I received four dead-end leads. These leads were provided, not by online pre-qualifying contact, but rather by contractors like myself, who put their feet on the pavement and knocked on doors. Our cold calling goal was to get contract and provider information before we were tossed out of the business. We were developing leads for the big guys in the office and the contractors were pretty much disposable, since few of us would make a living while waiting for the potential client's energy agreement to expire.

Yet, in just a matter of minutes, no less than 30 sales reps had my phone number and basic information. My only consolation, is that at least 29 of them will get the same rejection that I received when knocking on doors. At least they didn't wear out their shoes.
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1 comment:

  1. "Just Say No" is definitely the insurance theme... the real job's insurance plan has gotten progressively worse over the years because one employee got cancer. Every year they come back to the owner and say 'here's how much we're cutting your coverage and here's how much we're raising the price' and there just aren't any options...

    The last time I had an individual plan the coverage was decent, but that was with Blue Cross in California. When I left California I could never find anything as good or cheap.

    On a semi-related note, I'll ask Laura if she can forward on some more PRSA stuff.