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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Well this is mildly terrifying: according to a new Pew study, the Facebook privacy mode a lot of us rely on for photos and status updates is, on average, anything but private. Time to reconsider your settings, everyone.
The finding is staggering—Friends of Friends can hit as many as over seven million people:
Facebook users can reach an average of more than 150,000 Facebook users through their Facebook friends; the median user can reach about 31,000 others. At two degrees of separation (friends-of-friends), Facebook users in our sample can on average reach 156,569 other Facebook users. However, the relatively small number of users with very large friends lists, who also tended to have lists that are less interconnected, overstates the reach of the typical Facebook user. In our sample, the maximum reach was 7,821,772 other Facebook users. The median user (the middle user from our sample) can reach 31,170 people through their friends-of-friends.
When you think friend of a friend, the IRL analogue comes to mind. Your buddy’s buddy. That guy you met at a bar who seems okay. Your girlfriend’s pals from college. They must be okay people, right? They’re so narrowly removed from you, why not share all your photos with them?
Because 150,000+ people includes a hell of a lot of strangers you probably shouldn’t trust, and certainly don’t (and will never) know personally. You can read the study in its entirety below. [Pew]
You’ve got to be kidding me. The US Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that Congress can remove works from the public domain and re-copyright them in order to bring the the pieces into compliance with international copyright schemes. Yeah, because that doesn’t run completely against the spirit of copyright law or anything.
For one reason or another, the American copyright protections of many famous, foreign works—including H.G. Wells’ Things to Come, Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony and Peter and the Wolf, Shostakovich’s Symphony 14, Cello Concerto and everything by Igor Stravinsky—moved into the public domain despite still being copyrighted overseas. To “correct” this issue, Congress passed legislation in 1994 that would move the works in question back to protected status and comply with the Berne Convention, an international copyright treaty.
This week, the Supreme Court ruled on a case brought by a coalition of educators, performers, and film archivists who rely on public domain works such as these for their livelihoods. If these pieces are place back under copyright, this group (like everybody else) simply can’t use them. However in a 6-2 ruling—Justices Stephen Breyer and Samuel Alito dissenting—the Court ruled that bringing these works into agreement with the international treaty did not violate the First Amendment rights of those people using the works as they are now (no, those folks will just have to pay licensing fees to perform), nor does it set a precedent for Congress to eventually push for perpetual copyright protections.
In his dissent, Justice Breyer stated that the congressional legislation,
bestows monetary rewards only on owners of old works in the American public domain. At the same time, the statute inhibits the dissemination of those works, foreign works published abroad after 1923, of which there are many millions, including films, works of art, innumerable photographs, and, of course, books – books that (in the absence of the statute) would assume their rightful places in computer-accessible databases, spreading knowledge throughout the world.
As Anthony Falzone, executive director of the Fair Use Project at Stanford University commented, the ruling “suggests Congress is not required to pay particularly close attention to the interests of the public when it passes copyright laws.” Well, yeah, it’s Congress. They don’t need to read bills and amendments, they don’t need to represent their constituents. They jus need to ensure hard-working people like Igor Stravinsky gets the royalty checks he needs so desperately. Hey, a guy’s gotta eat—especially when he’s been dead since 1971. [ArsTechnica – top art: the AP]
Peanut butter and jelly, unicorns and glitter, Beats Electronics and Monster. One of these things just doesn’t belong, one of these things is not like the others. After a five-year collaboration, the two companies have terminated their relationship but do hope to remain friends.
According to Businessweek, the breakup came about due to an irreconcilable dispute between Beat’s Jimmy Iovine and Monster’s Noel Lee over which company deserved more credit for the brand’s 53-percent share of the $1 billion headphone market during the last year. As such, Beats has opted out of renewing its manufacturing contract with Monster when it expires later this year
Monster takes credit for the design and production “They wanted to do speakers and I said, ‘The new speaker is the headphone,’ ” says Lee. Beats, on the other hand believes its celebrity connections helped market the devices as high-quality status symbols. “Now a big part of what you’re paying for is the brand and fashion,” Ben Arnold, director of industry analysis for NPD, told Businessweek.
It’s still too soon to see who will ultimately come out ahead from this. Beats Electronics remains the preeminent brand for twentysomethings. Monster on the other hand will have to find a way to replace the lost revenue—reportedly 60 percent of its of privately held revenues and profit. Its recently announced partnerships with fashion brand Diesel and Radio Shack should do nicely though. Those products are expected to hit shelves later this year. [Businessweek via CNet – Photo by Elsa/Getty]
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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