Tag Archives: Insurance

Does your insurance insure nothing?

images-7What is the good of having ‘insurance’ that you cannot afford to use? I personally would say that it is basically just good for nothing except ripping you off, and so think others, as well as I do. Insurance where one cannot afford to pay the deductible is ‘insurance’ that does not actually insure. See Americans have insurance but can’t afford to use it.

Brand New Rope Syndrome.

The simple part of this is that before being elected, one of our New Royal Court in City Hall, one Councilman Leigh, had an accident in a parking lot where he hit two people, one of them an INFANT And then in court was given a ticket, which initially had two insurance points (higher rate) and a fine of $85. The mom and baby weren’t seriously hurt, but that’s not the point. The point is that Councilman Leigh, darling of the local Real Estate associations and the Chamber of Commerce, meaning, he’s only going to represent the Wealthy in our town, and the rest of us can go fish… bitched, whined and sniveled about how unfair it was that he would get a ticket for what could have killed two people including a BABY.

Let’s see, how would that work? The Chamber of Commerce were among the Royalist Pukes who insist that Insurance Companies have every right to deny service if it’s too expensive and to charge whatever rates they want, unlike Organized Labor who are supposed to take what’s offered and shut our cake-holes about it. Mr Leigh was never an objector to those policies, when it only affected the working class who feed his rich-bitch ass

Another point is that, contrary to the beliefs of aggressive drivers, Pedestrians DO own every bit as much of the road as drivers, and so do bicyclists.

In any case in any state where a car strikes a pedestrian, the Pedestrian had the right of way.

Bitch about all you want, but possession of a motor vehicle does NOT give you the privilege of striking anybody with that vehicle.

According to Mr Leigh, though, that doesn’t apply to rich folks like him. So he threatened to punish the court for “wronging” him. SAY WHAT?
I once was arrested for carrying a three-inch fishing knife on my belt, had to pay the bondsman a hundred dollars, a fine and community service, and didn’t actually harm ANYBODY. Plus had to spend time handcuffed. And this Rich Bitch Prick is whining that he had to pay a fine that was less money, and spent exactly zero time in handcuffs? For almost killing two people.

Then, of course, vowing to, once his Wealthy Friends got him selected for Shitty Council, cut the court down to size, for DARING to give him a ticket?

And he got elected, that’s amazing, and stupid. He compared himself to Richard Cheney as a “great leader” well, maybe so. Richard Cheney got drunk and shot a human being (ok, a corrupt Texas Republican Lawyer, but it did have two legs, two arms and a face) and is complicit in the deaths of thousands of American soldiers in wars he started for his own profit.

Maybe Mr Leigh IS like Dick Cheney. Dick Cheney also got away with almost killing the lawyer.

For the same reason Mr Leigh got away with a tap on the wrist (imagine how much he would snivel if he’d gotten a SLAP on the wrist! OMG Crybabies on Parade!”

Just like Cheney, his money bought him out of any real punishment.

But the Fat-ass Rich Bitch is still complaining, now his complaint is that people gave him a stern tsk-tsking for threatening to dismantle the Municipal Court in a high-priced Hissie-fit Spoiled Rich Boy tantrum over getting a ticket.

For hitting a child with his car. Let’s see that picture again…

He made the comment about Cheney saying that a politician’s personal life shouldn’t matter, well, if the person is a CRIMINAL like Cheney then it most certainly does. If one is an emotional infant who abuses power he hadn’t even been officially given yet in a very childish tantrum it should affect whether or not he’s given the actual power to make decisions like that. When he throws a further tantrum over being criticized for his childishness his mental health should come into question.

Colorado Springs City Council, with Leigh and Princess Lisa on board, it’s the Best Representation that Only Those With Lots Of Money Can Buy.

And that’s tragic.

America Wins! Tea Party LOSES!

One of their congressional whiners, from Michigan:

“The American people know you can’t reduce health care costs by spending $1 trillion or raising taxes by more than one-half trillion dollars. The American people know that you cannot cut Medicare by over one-half trillion dollars without hurting seniors,” said Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich.
(as though the lying hypocrite ever gave two shits about seniors or the deficit)
“And, the American people know that you can’t create an entirely new government entitlement program without exploding spending and the deficit.”
(unlike the current over ten trillion deficit with more to come from an “entitlement program” for the Oil and Coal corporations and the War Industry billioniares)

You see, the Daddy WarBucks DeathMongers and their partners in the Oil Industry, they’re entitled to take any oil resources in any country they want, tax free (on their part) and the American People are obligated not only to do their fighting for them, we have to pay for their Wars of Conquest as well.

As for their so-called concern for “Seniors” their party has sucked Medicare and Social Security funds dry to fund THEIR War. They’ve repeatedly robbed Social Security trust funds for the past three decades and campaigned not only against any increases in health care to the older Americans who rely on it, but against the very institution of Medicare in the first place. Rush Limbaugh vowed two weeks ago that he would leave the country if it passed… Wow, you think for once he’ll keep his word? Bye, Rush, nice seeing you(r back as you’re leaving) and don’t you worry none, if them thare Costa Rican Peasants ever rebel against you and your equally Fat Retarded Friends, you know you can always count on your Dittoheads to come and fight for you, just like you and your Fat-ass retarded brother did in Vietna… ooops… Never Mind. When left for the ChickenHawks to do anything like that, you’re screwed.

Is the Museum of Nature and Science gathering health data for insurers?

dmns expedition health
DENVER- At the Denver Museum of Nature and Science the most popular exhibit this summer is called “Expedition Health” and features high-tech diagnostic kiosks where visitors can gauge the general state of their health. Judging by the long lines, you’d think these people haven’t visited a doctor lately. I suspect that unless the medical insurance underwriters of the exhibit can be trusted, many of the DMNS-goers won’t get to see a doctor again.

My hypothesis– that “Expedition Health” is surreptitiously collecting personal medical data on every visitor who comes through their doors, to add actionable factors to insurance customer files. If this is happening or not, it easily could. And the DMNS is not offering any assurance that it is not.

Basically, everybody who goes through the Expedition Health exhibit is surrendering personal health data, which in the hands of insurers could be critical in their decision about whether or not to offer them medical coverage. Museum staff insist that the personal information is purged every night, although with a simple internet link this explanation is disproved. Staff explain that attendee magnetic cards are erased, perhaps innocently ignorant of where the information actually accrues as the public circulate from one kiosk to the next.

expedition health peak passAt pharmacies you can measure your blood pressure without a personalized magnetic card. But at the DMNS health exhibit, sponsored by Met Life, Kaiser Permanente, et al, you have to tell the machines who you are before you can learn your heart rate, your vital statistics, results of a stress test, a measure of your “stride,” digital imagery of your body at rest and in motion, scans of your fingers and palm, and a 3-D imaging of your face.

A telling detail, to my mind, is that the DMNS offers no printed assurance that the health information of its attendees is not being harvested by data merchants. Is it? Do I have any proof? I will offer you the clues, and you can be the judge. I think there are enough signs of subterfuge to suspect that “Expedition Health” is not serving your health.

Here’s how it looks to the average exhibit visitor: the attendee is given a magnetic card to use at the electronic kiosks, at the culmination of which a “Peak Pass” card will be generated to reflect the user’s health results. In the process the attendee learns about positive and negative factors which govern human health. Attendee are free to initiate the card with whatever fictitious ID data they wish, depending on how helpfully relevant they want their results to be.

The impression of anonymity is bolstered by several insincerities. I will illuminate a few.

A. The ruse of an aliased identity

Part one, the ID. Before museum-goers can attend “Expedition Health,” they must obtain an admission ticket marked with the time they can be scheduled to enter. This is done ostensibly to ease congestion through the exhibit hall.

denver museum peak passIn purchasing their museum passes, or submitting their DMNS membership cards, the visitors are of course revealing their verifiable identities. If they are not already members in the museum’s database, their admission purchase via credit card or personal check and driver’s license confirms who they are. Under the pretense of museum security, driver’s IDs can be inspected all of their own. Who would begrudge the museum knowing who is visiting? And if you had the foresight to worry about your anonymity, what would it matter if the museum recorded too, when you would be presenting yourself at the start of the health exhibit?

Part two: the unclean slate. At the exhibit door attendees submit their tickets and are admitted entrance and given a blank magnetic card. The staffer who collects the tickets is not the same person who immediately hands out the magnetic cards, thus reinforcing the sensation of a severed paper trail. But in actuality, there is no discontinuity because the card-holder immediately queues for a kiosk to personalize the card.

Although the user can chose to conjure personal information entirel fictitious, the impression is given that the card’s data goes no further than the exhibit’s exit door. When I asked, a staff member earnestly assured me that all the cards are erased every night. Which could be true, but irrelevant. The cards serve like a patient wristband at the hospital. The wristband confirms the identity of the patient at the various checkup points, as the medial records accumulate in remote files.

Part three, a false sense of anonymity. The museum patients are free to initiate their magnetic cards with whatever manner of fictitious name and birthday. Especially if it does not matter to them that the final printout will bear false facts. My companion felt he had to turn around to explain to me that he always lies about his birthday, by one day, to shake off the data spooks,. He volunteered this in case I thought he didn’t remember his own birth date. My sense is that most people give their true identity, if only so the kiosks will address them by their given names, the exchanges being in full view of friends and relatives waiting in line.

If the attendee hopes to glean some helpful health advice from the “Expedition Health” experience, they are inclined not to falsify the three remaining details: sex, age, and which “buddy,” among a statistical sampling of lifestyle types, they might identify themselves with.

Tell me that the last three profile items are not enough to provide a match to the hard data from the museum entrance receipts or membership database. Remember, the samples to compare are linked by the window of time the museum alloted to your ticket.

The choice of your “buddy” is the clincher. It might appear to be the most innocuous of indiscretions, but your surrogate patient type relays reliable biographical data about you, and doesn’t add anything to the health exhibit narrative except to use as a third person example, when the patient-specific explanation would reveal the alarming degree to which the diagnostics had taken your measure.

Which, to be fair, would create a liability risk for the museum, to complicate matters with pseudo diagnoses, easily misinterpreted by laymen.

The DMNS “Expedition Health” curators thus know quite definitively who you are, as you pass through their kiosks, putting yourself through a fairly extensive check up, the results of which are explained only generally to you, but to a medical administrator say enough to narrow many odds about your health prospects.

B. Diversionary misapplication of magnetic cards

Several of the Kiosks at “Expedition Health” are not interactive, and do not require the magnetic card. Of course, to assure that your “Peak Pass Personal Profile” data card will be filled print out with your EKG, Resting Heart Rate, Target Heart Rate, whether you reached your heart rate; your Arm Span, Height, Energy Score, Stride Length and Speed, a silhouette of your walking profile and another of your outreached Leonardo DaVinci pose; you’d have to have scanned your magnetic card at those machines.

By the way, the data summarized on the personal profile card was far more rudimentary in comparison to the information shown on the screens, and doubtless neither reflect the sophistication of the diagnostic electronics employed. The optics, for example, are capable of far better than inch-high cameos of your body. The lengths of time for which you have to pose for the scans betray the resolution the graphics engines are really processing.

Here’s the information being gathered at the various stops:

Taking your measure
The station which measures your arm span and height requires you to stand, arms outstretched, shoes off, for a full body digital picture, which records an uncommonly revealing photographic record of the subject’s body fat ratio.

Another station measures your stride length and speed, from which an “energy” score is awarded. To do this, a full motion video records you as you take over a half dozen steps, perhaps pushing yourself purposefully to boost your “energy score.” This video must be invaluable in what it reveals about a person’s vitality or physical challenges.

While the cardio-vascular stress tests might appear to offer mere stationary bicycling experiences, a subject’s entire session can be recorded, offering telltale clues to heart condition and lung stamina. Probably we’d all be more comfortable studying these results with the peace of mind that we have health insurance, as opposed to considering that our results might be grounds used to deny us health insurance coverage.

Diet
Several kiosks would seem to have no need for a card. For example, one featured an interactive script about nutrition. Mostly children sit at this station, to pick among menus of food, the mission being to fortify a climber for an ascent of a peak. Their choice of nutrients determines how far the animated climber will get, before tumbling after from hunger. You plug in your card to begin, and as a result the climbing figure features a Tanqueray-head-type of your chosen buddy. If this kiosk is gleaning a sense of your diet preferences, it’s not revealed on the exhibition debriefing printout.

Identification Marks
Another kiosk teaches you about wind chill. You stick your hand into a plexiglass chamber where lasers measure the change in your skin temperature over the course of several minutes. Curiously, you have to insert the magnetic card at this stop. Why? And you cannot proffer your elbow, your fist, or the back of your hand. Is it possible that the lasers reading your hand are actually scanning the prints of your palm and fingers? I know too little about medicine to conjecture what use the medical industry might have for such information, but the data is certainly marketable to security firms.

Confessions
While on this tangent, there’s another kiosk, the most popular in fact, which DOES NOT REQUIRE A CARD. At this station you get to see your face as it’s projected to age over the course of your life. The line is the longest at this station, while subjects pose, their face held immobile, framed in a stainless steel ring, for an interminable several seconds. I witnessed one person complain that the light into which he had to stare hurt his eyes. Eventually the scan yields only an oddly primitive, cellphone-quality facsimile of the subject’s face, projected on an adjacent flat screen. Next, the subject is asked which among three factors might influence how he’s expected to age. Please check which apply: UV damage, Obesity, and/or Smoker.

By law, none of these behaviors would have to be confessed to a doctor, or an insurance agent, in particular if such was a vice already put well behind. But the aging machine draws out the truth. Because the interrogator machina does not ask for your ID, it creates the semblance that you are being asked anonymously. Who doesn’t fully comprehend by now that sun exposure, obesity and smoking are very tragic predictors of our future health problems?

The pseudo age-disfigured face is disappointing. The transformation is just a transparency of age spots, wrinkles and discoloration overlaid on an initial low-rez photograph. If you are not recording the age-progression with your own camera, the ephemeral image passes, with no trace of what the long facial scan had actually recorded. You’d think since the lines of visitors here are always so long, that the aging image is what visitors might like to take with them as a memento. Alas, there’s no slot on this kiosk into which to insert your magnetic card to “record” it. But the sovereignty of this station is illusory.

Biometrics
If a webcam, a PC, and a common internet connection can transmit video in real-time video, why would this DMNS workstation be laboring for so long over your face? Can I hazard a guess? A 3-dimensional study of your face, and something just short perhaps of a retinal scan? If medical administrators are not looking at symptoms deep in your eyes, or in the translucence of your skin, perhaps this kiosk is for the security interests tabulating your biometrics.

If nothing else, the biometric configuration of your face can be matched to a digital image of your whole body from a previous kiosk, thus confirming your identity, BECAUSE AT THIS KIOSK YOU ENJOYED ANONYMITY. But now your smoker/obesity concession can be deftly noted alongside the other red flags being added to your health profile.

C. The Parting Shot
The last kiosk, in my opinion, gives the game away. If you insert your magnetic card, you can record a video message, a propo anything at all. I saw many takers offering calm Youtube soliloquies, as if composing a greeting to send into space. And AHA –instead of pretending that your video would be encoded on your card, instructions beside the screen offered the internet URL at which you can go see it.

First, this directive gives truth to the lie, the DMNS staffers’ incurious conclusion, that individual records are purged everyday. Your profile lives on on the internet, see it for yourself. Give your six-digit pass-code to a friend and they can see it too. And of course, you’re not the only one with the pass-code.

Second, you might well ask yourself, what does a videogram have to do with apprising me about my health? Unless it’s a time-capsule snapshot of you before you lost your insurance coverage. Because the video has everything to do with breached personal privacy. There you are, in your unguarded candor, sitting not upright like you would for a job interview, nor slouched like you might for Social Security, and you’re providing a recording for voice pattern recognition, for further data triangulation.

Third, you’ll have noticed, if you tried the Peak Pass link to the DMNS website, you get no further with your personal code than an invitation to “extend your experience” by installing Microsoft Silverlight. I hadn’t mentioned that the Gates Foundation was another big sponsor of “Expedition Health.” Beside the security vulnerabilities of client-side code, managing what is supposed to be confidential information, what usual back doors is Microsoft leaving in its pseudo-Flash, offering untold windows into our personal medical records?

The DMNS
I do not believe the museum staff have any idea what becomes of the data, nor the extent of the data, logged as museum visitors recreate through “Expedition Health.” The multiple employees, including a manager to whom I spoke, believed all data was erased daily. I’m not sure why they were untroubled by the internet database that obviously refutes their understanding of the process.

However the IT programmers who wired up the displays, and information managers handling the data, would most certainly know the full extent of this nefarious harvest.

Judging from the recent performance of the CEOs of the top medical insurers before Congress, expressing no remorse about their disreputable practice of rescinding coverage for customers upon their being diagnosed with expensive health problems, I do not think it is alarmist in the least to suspect that projects like “Expedition Health” and other similar museum “exhibits” around the country, are being used to further screen the prospectively less-than healthy.

DNA
Readers who’ve already visited “Expedition Health” will note that I ‘ve omitted mention of a significant corner of the experience, the hands-on, let’s play pathologist portion where visitors don lab-coats and, with the assistance of similarly lab-coated docent/lab-technicians, draw and observe their own DNA samples.

Where I inquired, I saw no magnetic-stripped cards changing hands, so I cannot say, on the hot topic of DNA, that the sky is falling. This holds with my inclination to believe that the museum volunteers are not party to the privacy improprieties of the sponsors running the machines. But what hands-on scientific observations are being conducted on digital equipment, as distinguished from analog microscopes, might be kept in the records, and it would only require just one lab-coated coordinator to monitor which sample came from whom. And wouldn’t that be the whole ball of wax?

CRYING WOLF?
If all this seems implausible, consider what is happening at Buckley AFB, by coincidence only a few miles away in Denver. Although US security agencies refuse to comment, respected intelligence experts have determined that at Buckley reside the data storage units upon which are the recordings of every single cellphone conversation that’s been transmitted via satellite. Every last one, for the past several years. Current technology does not afford agents the capability to monitor all those calls, but the processors are quickly catching up. The spooks can project that the eventual capacity to parse the information is inevitable. So why not begin logging the information now? The public has learned about Buckley from former employees, this is not mere idle speculation. Meanwhile the telecom companies who’ve been complicit in the data collection, have been very adamant about receiving immunity from prosecution for what constitute gross violations of American law.

AND NOW?
The information tracking mechanisms are there, the DMNS staff do not presume to vouch for machines, only for the harmless cards. Meanwhile the DMNS has no written pledge that their visitors’ confidentiality is being respected. Harvesting test data is not illegal after all, and with the pretense of anonymity, it’s even laudable, in the name of Science and Nature. I am awaiting a written response from the “Expedition Health” curator, and I intend to solicit an informed and verifiable refutation of these charges. I’ll keep you posted.

The “Expedition Health” installation went up in April, but it’s not coming down. It’s the most recent PERMANENT EXHIBIT to be added to the DMNS offerings. Add the trajectory of time to the information the diagnostics will be able to assemble about you.

And so, what do you think of a museum of Nature and Science, adding a whole wing about FREE HEALTH TESTING? Is that the dominion of museums, usually public repositories of the archives of knowledge? Or can you imagine a more appropriate setting for equipment and staff to perform medical checkups?

Strip Gaza bare to put down a prison riot

1971 Attica prisonersISRAEL IS READY TO DECLARE A CESSATION OF ITS MOP UP OF GAZA? Israel moved its troops into Gaza under the pretext that Palestinians imprisoned there had rioted. As if tanks can stop the rocket fire with brute force. What society has eradicated crime by threatening collective punishment of its subjects? As jailer of Gaza and the West Bank, Israel intends to strip the Palestinians of everything: food, shelter, dignity, even their children, but then Israel will have to throw away the key.

The world won’t stand idly by, but America, Israel’s lone supporter, and financier, is being kept in the dark by a corporate media which doesn’t want to interrupt the lucrative military contracts which depend upon unrest in the Middle East.

While Israel bombs hospitals and UN shelters, and blocks every effort to bring aid to the besieged civilians, Israeli pundits divert attention to envoys purportedly trying to discuss a ceasefire. Bombing the UN headquarters, full of food supplies, not to mention 700 refugees, with no less than the chemical weapon white phosphorous, and the leading news headline on US networks, including BBC World, is a casualty-free plane crash and, by the way, Israeli envoys waving a white flag while its soldiers continue to attack even the journalists who are trying to document their heavy handed repression?!

Peace or Rest In Peace.

Why else have Israeli soldiers been targeting hospitals, food supplies and aid providers? Why won’t Israel permit aid agencies to bring relief to the Gazans? Does Israel accuse the U.N. of smuggling rockets?

Attica riotThe Qassam rockets fired by Hamas were in response to Israel failing to lift its 18 month blockade of the Gaza borders, in default of their previous ceasefire agreement.

Here’s what the prisoners of Attica were rioting about:

“We are not beasts, and we do not intend to be beaten or driven as such…. What has happened here is but the sound before the fury of those who are oppressed.”

Want a public psychological profile?

Scantron Psych EvaluationI’m not one to shy from self-expression online, but I draw the line at providing survey-question data, particularly psychological tests. They may plow up interesting stuff, but online, associating my IP and cookies, for harvesting by profile aggregators, I don’t think so. I’ve done the 6-question Which Book Are You, but I won’t do the List Your Favorite Books and I certainly won’t do a Myers-Briggs type analysis. For whom?

Scantron multiple choice formWhat could an online profiler deduce from such results? I’ve no idea. But that’s my lack of imagination. I’m not in the business of trading social profiles and profiting by it.

I do know that psychoanalysis is still a crap shoot, likewise so is literary interp. But carbon pencil marks on a multiple choice form can be tabulated by number crunchers which size up everyone with tables and graphs. Heavy machinery can then make informed decisions about you based simply on how the numbers come together. It’s punch card technology. You prefer Tiramisu over Creme Brule, Boggle over Scrabble? The survey says: we need two times the security deposit from you, sorry dude.

Multiple choices with no.2 pencilHandling internet sales at the Bookman, we use a rudimentary fashion of account profiling. Its efficacy is something we’ve wised up to over the years. Here’s how it works: if someone makes an inquiry about shipping details before they place an order, we reject their order. Period. They may be earnest, even upstanding, but our experience shows they’ll be trouble. Our actuarial table says basically, this customer is so likely to be a bother, let them go. So we pass.

It seems a shame, but it’s the only bureaucratic edge Bookman has, and why not take it? Shipping books is a business after all, for profit. Who needs the aggravation of someone figuring they can get their money back AND keep the book. The odds they won’t? Not good enough.

That’s the way profiling works in business applications. If you’re a client falsely cast, you’ve no recourse. The semi-literate customer service rep on the phone has no discretion to treat you differently. And why should they? The designers of the business model know where to fish for profit and when to cut bait. The statistical overlay supersedes any argument you can make. What are you going to say? I’ll be an exception, I promise!? Insurance companies didn’t grow such tall impressive buildings with unreliable actuarial tables.