Hospitals are increasingly milling their patients’ confidential medical records to target their promotional mailings for services, reported Phil Galewitz of USA Today.
It’s not illegal, but the practice doesn’t sit well with consumer advocacy groups who point out that many health care providers are choosing to ping patients with better insurance coverage.
That creates a sort of indirect discrimination, as hospitals make it harder for consumers with less insurance to learn about services they may very well need.
To target the ads, hospitals determine the likelihood that patients would need certain services based on age, income and insurance status. Hospitals have said they target patients with private insurance because the companies tend to pay higher rates than government-backed plans like Medicare and Medicaid.
The mailings also advertise a variety of tests, such as screenings for cancers and cholesterol, which are generally more expensive.
As record numbers of Americans go without health insurance, hospitals targeting consumers who are more capable of shelling out money for services has been an inevitable outcome, along with soaring health insurance premiums (Read why the rich are building their own hospitals.)
To make matters worse, employers are also reducing health insurance benefits in the workplace.
As we recently reported, one in five Americans are experiencing difficulty paying off their medical debt, while 25 percent have considered filing for bankruptcy because of rising medical bills.
Though targeted mailings might place others without insurance at a disadvantage, hospital officials insist they target patients who pay more to make enough profit to serve everyone.
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Harford suggests that there are a few key things we need to pay attention to when dealing with failure. First is avoiding the denial that we’re wrong. He says, “It seems to be the hardest thing in the world to admit we’ve made a mistake and try to put it right. It requires you to challenge a status quo of your own making.” Sometimes we’ll go so far as to chase our losses just to avoid failure, as if accepting the failed situation will make all our effort worthless. In the end, we can’t predict what’s going to work. We can only experiment with trial and error. Failure is an important part of this process, and accepting it makes us capable of actually finding success in the long run.
For more information, check out the full article on The 99 Percent. For another take on the same idea, check out this article in the New York Times.
Why Success Always Starts With Failure | The 99 Percent
You can follow Adam Dachis, the author of this post, on Twitter, Google+, and Facebook. Twitter’s the best way to contact him, too.
A raid on suspected militants in the West Bank was cancelled yesterday after an Israeli soldier updated his Facebook status to read “On Wednesday we clean up Qatanah, and on Thursday, god willing, we come home.” The solider has since, unsurprisingly, been relieved of combat duty for being a moron. He’ll also spend 10 days in prison for his update.
Trying to educate soldiers on the importance of not leaking classified info to Facebook, the Israel Defense Forces have started putting up new posters in bases:
In posters placed on military bases, a mock Facebook page shows the images of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Syrian President Bashar Assad and Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah. Below their pictures – and Facebook “friend requests” – reads the slogan: “You think that everyone is your friend?”
I really want to see one of those posters. Anyone in the IDF want to send us a picture? My email address is below. I won’t post it on Facebook, promise. [NY Times]
Dr. Augustine Fou is Digital Consigliere to marketing executives, advising them on digital strategy and Unified Marketing(tm). Dr Fou has over 17 years of in-the-trenches, hands-on experience, which enables him to provide objective, in-depth assessments of their current marketing programs and recommendations for improving business impact and ROI using digital insights.
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