Selfie-Healthy Health Care

IMG_1897 - Version 2What does Obamacare/ACA mean to me in terms of my personal health care now that the 2014 roll-out is officially in place?

I have the same job-based health insurance through the same health insurance company that I’ve had for the past two decades. I’m sure that they have continued to raise my deductibles and co-pays this year as they have in most years, but, truthfully, I have ceased to pay much attention to those details.

The biggest change that certainly has gotten my attention was a recent mailing I received with the following highlighted in bright orange: “Premium surcharges and a wellness incentive are coming! Take action on the four steps below.” I knew these were coming and had already taken their wellness survey back in December just for grins (see blog post My New Year’s Resolution: Avoid Wellness Programs, 12-30-13). As the blog post title implies, I had planned to ignore this Big Brother naughty or nice-style intrusion on my sense of privacy, but then I read the next highlighted item on the mailing: “What happens if I don’t respond…?” Answer: I’d start being charged a $25 per month tobacco use surcharge (even though I am a never smoker) and I’d forfeit a $125 reduction on my 2015 medical deductible. Opting out this year would cost me $425. The ACA/Obamacare allows employers to offer larger health/wellness incentives, up to 30% of the cost of coverage, so my health insurance company could hike up these ‘incentives’ (penalties?) considerably in the future.

Begrudgingly, I signed onto their website to attest to not using tobacco products. Then I chose a primary care provider (who I haven’t seen in two years because she is too popular/busy/on her way to becoming another burnout statistic). Then I had to re-take their silly, non-evidence based health assessment. It still tells me I need to stop eating a high-fat diet when I’m a vegetarian. Finally, I registered for one of their wellness program activities: doing at least 90 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week for at least 10 consecutive weeks. Walking, swimming, cycling, yelling profanities at my health insurance company and our health care system…..Great. OK. Go away you silly premium surcharge/personal wellness incentive that raised my blood pressure!

Just when I thought I was done with all of that for the year, I got an e-mail invitation from my insurance company inviting me to enter a HealthieSelfie photo contest on their Facebook page. All I have to do is ‘snap a selfie’ of my wellness goals and send it to them, to what? share with all their other selfie health care absorbed health plan enrollees? The ultimate of (flat, fit, no flab allowed) navel-gazing healthism? An example of medical sociologist Deborah Lupton’s imperative of health? A fun, harmless, effective way to use social media to promote personal health (and thereby enable the health insurance company to reap more health plan profits)? Yes to all of the above.

Having never taken a selfie before, my first attempt resulted in a photo of my thumb. I find deep symbolism in that. The photo here is my second attempt, and shows me ‘doing’ my 2014 selfie-wellness goal: Less time trying to figure out our crazy health care system and more time in my garden playing with my Corgi.

One thought on “Selfie-Healthy Health Care

  1. This is what happens when a good policy (we get to be accountable, maybe financially, if we choose to live in an unhealthy way that costs us all more) actually ends up with insurance companies increasing their already increasing profits. Good policy meets capitalism. Rarely works.

    That said: nothing wrong, in my book, holding my feet to the fire to not smoke, to exercise. Just want the $ to go to preventive/population health efforts, not to insurance co profits. Kind of like the tobacco settlement $ in Calif going to fund the high risk pool, so insurance companies could (and in the capitalistic paradigm should)deny everyone individual insurance for minor reasons (back injury, resolved 12 years before), then charge more for less in the high risk pool and the person pays more and the state kicks in another several hundred a month.

    So much wrong with the ACA. I bristle at calling it Obama care when we also do not mention the millions now covered who were uninsurable.

    How can we hold the shortcomings with the benefits, in the same hand, so that we can move forward from here without providing fodder for a giant step backward into the hands of far more repressive forces.

    provocative post. Thanks!

    Like

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