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.