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Retro looking picture of businessman peering through blinds.
AOL CEO Tim Armstrong's extremely regrettable decision to blame a new policy cutting employees' retirement benefits on how much money the company spent on two "distressed babies" was an outrage. So much so that Armstrong apologized publicly, reversed his decision, and reportedly called the two families involved to extend a personal apology, as entirely appropriate. The incident, though, has raised a new concern for workers: just how much privacy do you have in the workplace?
[P]atient and work force experts say the gaffe could have a lasting impact on how comfortable—or discomfited—Americans feel about bosses’ data-mining their personal lives. [...]

"This example shows how easy it is for employers to find out if employees have a rare medical condition," said Dr. Deborah C. Peel, founder of Patient Privacy Rights, a nonprofit group in Austin, Tex. She urged regulators to investigate Mr. Armstrong’s disclosure about the babies, saying "he completely outed these two families."

In response to a query about how Mr. Armstrong learned the specifics of the AOL employees' situations, Doug Serton, a spokesman for AOL, said, "We aren't commenting on these issues."

All of a sudden AOL management has decided not to be so loose-lipped. Too bad that circumspection didn't occur to Armstrong when he was on a company-wide conference call. But at least they're sorry now. They still haven't explained away that $7.1 million cost of Obamacare Armstrong asserted, which is pretty much completely impossible, or how two patients could cost the company $2 million out-of-pocket, something that many health care experts are puzzled by given the size of AOL and the regular business practices large companies take to protect against those kinds of costs. Since AOL has decided to shut up about it all now (better late than never?) we might never know.

But AOL shareholders should be more than a little concerned that the guy steering this company can't keep his mouth shut on something as sensitive as employees' privacy, or apparently can't make good enough business decisions to prevent the company from catastrophic medical costs.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 10:17 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos Labor and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (42+ / 0-)

    "The NSA’s capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything. [...] There would be no place to hide."--Frank Church

    by Joan McCarter on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 10:17:49 AM PST

  •  As someone transitioning on the job (8+ / 0-)

    everyone I work with knows.  When I take Medical Leave, everyone knows why.  While I fortunately work for a company that does recognize strict confidentiality around HR type issues including medical reasons for leave, there is in practice no way to avoid it.  In my case, the only alternative was to not work for a$$holes.  Of course, since no trans inclusive ENDA, when I brought my story to management attention, they could have just walked me to the door.

    BTW it turns out the big insurance companies pay lip service to covering trans related medical costs much in the same way many companies wave a "green" flag & say they are being responsible because even tho they use 800 Gigawatts of power a year they have a solar panel out front.  Practically nothing is covered, & I have a really good plan, but they promote their trans inclusiveness.

    AOL could save a few million by getting rid of their CEO who in any case proved he can't do his job.  As an aside, before this story came out, I didn't realize AOL even still existed.  

    I do not demand tolerance, I demand equal rights. --Anna Grodzka

    by VeggiElaine on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 11:45:40 AM PST

  •  Sounds like a HIPAA violation to me- and (11+ / 0-)

    in front of God and everyone so it's not "deniable". Bring on the Federal lawsuit!

    •  HIPAA Violation (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LilithGardener

      You are exactly right.  I'm sure the only reason the guy apologized was to mitigate any legal action the families might rightfully take.

      UGH, TEXAS. Please secede!

      by u028021 on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 01:47:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  If I remember correctly the Mom has already (2+ / 0-)

        said that this has caused her family problems, so I think the "apology" is moot.

      •  NSA (0+ / 0-)

        The NSA spy's on every American and with Facebook and twitter telling everything there is to know about Americans, Americans worry about how much the boss knows. really?

        Bondage is coming to America right after apathy plays out its hand.

        The chamber of commerce and its lobbyists will make sure third world  comes to America for its cheap labor for businesses.

        You know America is toast when a pizza owner gives his employee a three dollar raise and gets honorable mention in the state of union address and a solder gets blown up in an illegal war is also featured.

    •  Yup n/t (0+ / 0-)

      Libertarianism is just Fascism with a facelift. Scratch the surface of Libertarianism and you will find the notion that corporations should rule supreme, just as it was with Fascism..

      by Walt starr on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 04:32:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Doesn't Sarbanes–Oxley Act cover this? (7+ / 0-)

    As a supervisor I had to attend classes that said that because of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, I could not reveal any of my employee's health conditions.  

    Does this not apply anymore?

    •  Well, he didn't name the employees (0+ / 0-)

      Saying that there were two babies that had issues doesn't name the families.

      Now, the families knew who he was talking about, and at least one of them has come forward, but I don't think that stating that there were two babies that spent some time in the NICU violates privacy regulations. Not when you have as many employees as AOL does.

      •  So how does the CEO find out this (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        88kathy, LilithGardener, thomask, sfgb

        protected medical information about people who aren't even his employees (the babies, I mean). And how is it that two sick babies cost the company anything over and above the portion of employees' health insurance that they cover? Companies don't pay deductibles for coverage, employees do. Sounds like more than just the CEO violated HIPAA here.

        •  It is possible (0+ / 0-)

          That AOL's cost went up when they renewed.

          •  Correct. Any helth insurance company (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mikeVA

            would renegotiate the costs to AOL when next years contract came up. One of the deeply troubling parts of this is that during the negotiations AOL would ask why costs went up. Insurance company would say the increase of however many millions of dollars in health spend.  And then thing got tricky - AOL can ask what spend, but the insurance company clearly violated some privacy laws in telling AOL details they had no right to know.

            UGH, TEXAS. Please secede!

            by u028021 on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 01:54:01 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  If Armstrong knew the names (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          saucer1234, u028021, mikeVA, Nespolo, sfgb

          of the employees in question, that would be a clear-cut violation of HIPAA.  Knowing the nature of two 3-sigma claims -- that may not be so clear.  Publicly whining about the cost: that's repugnant.

          "Get over it...and get out of the way." -- Gov. Steve Beshear (D-KY)

          by mspicata on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 01:26:07 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  He may not have known their names... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          oldmanriver, antirove

          ...but he may have had access to rolled up "blinded" statistics from the company who administers their (presumably self insured) medical plan which revealed that two employes out of tens of thousands had incurred high costs for rare childhood diseases. Perhaps these stats included something like information about the major source of medical claims for the most expensive 1% of employees or something like that.

          It's even possible that the reason he made some assertions that are hard to believe is because of relying on these statistics too much without solid understanding of statistical methods. Of course, it's more likely his people pretty much made up the numbers (although, he probably sort of believes them -- it's doubtful he is doing the actual spreadsheet crunching and making the assumptions himself -- any more than a cabinet officer coded up Healthcare.gov).

          In order for a company that is self insured to manage health care costs, they would have to know some data. If you have no idea if your employees are filling claims for sports accidents in large numbers vs. for heart disease, how would you know where to focus your education/preventative efforts?

          Obviously an insurance company (or Medicare or Medicaid) would be expected to do such analysis as well since in that case they are paying the claims whereas many/most big companies are paying the insurance claims themselves.

          It's a quandary that arises from the absurd "employer provided health insurance" that arose from businesses trying to get around wage controls during WWII. Like most everything, seemingly small and temporary actions can have long term unintended consequences -- in this case, if most middle class people didn't have the cost of insurance/medical care hidden from them due to employer provided health insurance, it seems likely we would have had single payer decades ago.

      •  I don't think so (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        One Opinion, sfgb

        If there are only two cases, and they're high profile, he's singling them out (for one thing, their co-workers would know, for another thing, he's harassing them just as thoroughly as if he called them out by name).  I don't think this would cut it as a defense.
        0

    •  It applies, plus ADA (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ice Blue, LilithGardener, sfgb

      Americans with Disability Act forbids termination for health care costs, too, but see my "true story," below. It's done, because unemployed people don't sue.

      They don't sue because they're poor, and they don't sue because they think it will hurt their chances of getting another job.

      Everyone's innocent of some crime.

      by The Geogre on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 01:05:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I imagine that HIPPA or some component of it (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      88kathy, saucer1234, sfgb

      would come into play.

      If I were a justice department person looking to make a few bucks for the cause, I'd want to know just how exactly and who obtained this information for this guy to use as an example when such information is supposed to be privileged.

      This kind of thing has to be nipped in the bud now before others in the elite ruling class get the same idea.

    •  In different ways (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LilithGardener

      It's basically a HIPPA issue.

      But if the appropriate mechanisms weren't in place, that's a matter of maintaining business controls to prevent illegal acts, and he's a public company or otherwise has mandatory forms of financial reporting, SOX comes into play as well.

      If the plan administrator is a big player, they damn well know their compliance issues; a CEO who gets $500m bonuses is going to think twice before he signs the company's SOX compliance statement.

      And, yes, my company's management training emphasized that if I ever did something like that, I'd be in a world of hurt.

  •  AOL = Huffington Post = Shit (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tampaedski
  •  I'm glad he didn't keep his mouth shut (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aquarius40, VeggiElaine, One Opinion, sfgb

    Most of them do, but this practice is widespread and needs to be addressed.  The big question here is WHY did he know about two of AOL's employees medical records.  If they didn't personally share it with him, how does he know?  It's NONE of his business unless they wanted to make it his business.  I think he wanted to make it his business, and that's illegal.  See HIPAA

    If I have any spit left after I've licked my own wounds, I'll be glad to consider licking yours. Peace.

    by nancyjones on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 12:55:17 PM PST

  •  Re: the picture... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VeggiElaine

    Whose boss is Martin Mull???

    "Non-violence is a powerful and just weapon which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

    by Gentle Giant on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 12:56:17 PM PST

  •  The boss shouldn't KNOW about my health (6+ / 0-)

    Which is why he shouldn't be able to veto my choice of using BCP's.

    Or, if he's a Jehovah's Witness, he shouldn't be able to override my doctor's medical advice and deny me the right to get a blood transfusion.

    It's not his business to know how I choose to take care of my body.

  •  Genuine question: isn't this just the difference (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ladybug53, sfgb

    between self-insured corporations, and companies that buy group health insurance?

    As the plan admin for our small business group insurance, I did not get any info about medical services usage by other employees. Just premium bills, new plan outlines (every single year) etc.

    Only way I or anyone else would know is by an employee asking my help with an insurance company issue--like why wasn't my colonoscopy covered--and normal talk between coworkers.

    How does self insurance work?  

    Okay, the Government says you MUST abort your child. NOW do you get it?

    by Catskill Julie on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 01:02:22 PM PST

    •  It's been suggested that they are self-insuring (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ladybug53

      And that's likely the only way he'd know.

    •  General answer. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      liberaldregs, antirove, Nespolo

      Usually, with self-insurance, the company signs an ASO (Administrative Services Only) contract with an insurance company.  The insurer pays the bills, using the company's checkbook.  

      Smaller companies can still do this up to a certain level, with a cost-plus plan: that is, self-insured until a certain aggregate is reached, then true insurance kicks in.  Larger companies that self-insure often purchase reinsurance to do the same thing, or create a reinsurance subsidiary to segregate the risk.

      Either way, the idea is to manage costs and maintain HIPAA compliance, because you should only know the health costs at some level of aggregation, not down to the individual employee level.  Even with aggregation, though, you're likely to know the statistical outliers of your claims, even if you don't necessarily know who they are.

      "Get over it...and get out of the way." -- Gov. Steve Beshear (D-KY)

      by mspicata on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 01:17:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  True story (7+ / 0-)

    Some years ago, our college had a health insurance plan from a tiny firm. The school also wanted to cut its budget into profitability, because that always works. Therefore, a secret group of trustees were to evaluate each professor in terms solely of money cost vs. money made.

    At the end of this extensive efficiency study, the Board of Trustees endorsed a list of faculty to be cut.

    Amazingly, every person on the list had a serious medical condition. Coincidentally, people who had just the prior semester gotten cancer diagnoses were terminated. Purely irrelevantly, all but two of the cuts were women with reproductive cancers and complications.

    One of the members of the select group of trustees performing the study owned the health insurance company that the college used. It would be illegal, of course, for the health plan to tell the college which employees were costing the most, so I'm sure that it never did.

    Everyone's innocent of some crime.

    by The Geogre on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 01:03:38 PM PST

    •  Single Payer (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Geogre

      If we had single payer universal health coverage in this country, employers wouln't have to worry about health care costs.

      Wait a minute, did I just make a business-friendly conservative case for single payer?

      "For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die." --Senator Ted Kennedy

      by Blue Silent Majority on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 05:43:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The real question is... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ladybug53

    why did the two "distressed" pregnancies this jackass was whining about cost $1 million a piece?
    HELLO....THAT IS THE PROBLEM!!

    •  If this included the cost of all... (0+ / 0-)

      ...post natal care for a premature birth with many complications (such as multiple complicated surgeries to address life threatening congenital birth defects unrelated to the baby being born prematurely), it may be an outlier but not unbelievable.

      Over here there are some parents describing the costs they incurred. One example is:

      My baby spent 76 days in the NICU, which turned into just under 1 million in bills
      ...and another for what appears to be only 4 weeks in NICU...
      Total cost was around 975,000. Insurance normally covers 100% but we had to be flown to a different hospital with level 4 NICU for her birth and care. So they only covered 50%. Emily was in level 4 for three weeks and level 2 for 1 week.
      ...or...
      We just go our first bill and it was under $600,000 for her 1st month!! We will be here about 4 months!!!
      In some sense it may seem outrageous, but AOL might well have had to pay out the money they claim for these births.

      Maybe we, as a society, could decide not to spend this much on one life (although broad support for the elimination of life-time caps under the PPACA suggests this is not the case), or maybe we can figure out how to do it cheaper, or maybe we will accept lower success rates in exchange for saving money. However exceptionally highly skilled, specialized 7/24 care in facilities with enough resources (reserve equipment, space and staff) to handle the "high points" of demand (because one or more patients have a crisis simultaneously and/or because more patients need to be cared for due to random variances in inter-arrival times) will always be expensive. Who pays of course can vary (the insurance mandate, for example, transfers some of these costs to others who have no chance of having a baby; single payer transfers it for those who don't have private insurance to the general taxpaying populace) - but who pays is quite different from what it costs.

  •  My boss could find out anything he wanted (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VeggiElaine, sfgb

    to know about my health just by checking the electronic records system he can access.  He's a doctor and we work for a medical school.  

    This would get him in a lot of trouble unless he had my permission which (since he's a pediatric cardiologist and I'm only a few years younger than he is) he would not have, and he's never shown any interest in poking any farther into anything not involved in his research than he absolutely must ....

    I think what the CEO of AOL did was illegal even before HIPAA.

    Strength and dignity are her clothing, she rejoices at the days to come; She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the law of kindness is on her tongue.

    by loggersbrat on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 01:05:58 PM PST

    •  From what I understand accessing the file out of (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sharon Wraight

      curiosity is a violation even if you don't blab about what you found. Your number comes up as accessing the file, bam, violation.

      Now they have the 2nd (safety net for sloppy) Amendment, and can't be infringed to actually treat their gun like a gun and not a video game controller.

      by 88kathy on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 01:28:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  here is how i think this went down (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    liberaldregs, sfgb

    mr. ceo doesn't like Obama, democrats, the ACA, or anything else that isn't fluffing guys like him on a daily basis. everyone he knows at the country club and in the board room feels the same way. and he, like his friends, are used to proclaiming this dislike at every opportunity, no matter if their numbers add up or their facts are straight.

    so the time came for the internal company call and mr. ceo developed the agenda with his team, which included the need to discuss the 401K change. somebody, maybe a communications or HR person, said that some talking points around the change should be developed, having in mind some routine business issues that surrounded the decision. mr. ceo like the idea of talking points but had no interest in saying what those business decisions were (we did it because we can get away with it and it cuts millions in costs, which helps me  make my numbers). so instead he asks the HR team for very specific examples of increased costs that could be blamed on healthcare coverage, which by extension could be blamed on Obama and ACA. HR coughs up some details, he picked the talking points he liked best, and he blurted them out without much regard for context, accuracy, privacy, or anything else, since it was never intended to be more than a one way conversation dressed up to be a "town hall."

    since it backfired, he probably chewed out the boss of the person who suggested talking points in the first place and made a mental note to cut his/her rating and bonus next year.

  •  As someone living with HIV . . . (0+ / 0-)

    I've often wondered about this.  I've always assumed someone in the state government apparatus knows my serostatus, although I'm not sure who it might be.  Hard to tell when your employer is the state of California.

    That said, I haven't worried about it all that much because I seriously doubt anyone would use the information against me given the legal protections against discrimination people with HIV have under both state and federal law.  Besides, I know for sure I'm already on both a state and federal registry of people who are HIV+.  So in some ways this cat is already partially out of the bag.

    Nevertheless, I find this sort of thing very troubling.  Those of us with expensive, chronic illnesses could very easily be subjected to discriminatory treatment because we're expensive to insure, and our employers could mask their adverse employment actions under the guise of something else.  We should require that employers erect firewalls to prevent personally identifiable health information from being seen by those who have no compelling need for it.  As in so many other areas, this country's data privacy protections are woefully inadequate.

    "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

    by FogCityJohn on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 01:09:34 PM PST

    •  That firewall is in place. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VeggiElaine, One Opinion, sfgb

      It's called HIPAA, and the question in this case is whether Armstrong violated the firewall.  

      "Get over it...and get out of the way." -- Gov. Steve Beshear (D-KY)

      by mspicata on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 01:21:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't think HIPPA applies here. (0+ / 0-)

        I'm not an expert in the statute, but my understanding is that those covered by it are (in some way, shape, or form) providers of health care services.  I don't know that it applies to a person's employer, although I could be wrong about that.

        "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

        by FogCityJohn on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 01:30:56 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  health plan (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sfgb, FogCityJohn

          Health plans are covered entities under HIPAA, just like health care providers.  

          If the employer is self-insured, essentially funding the plan themselves and paying a third-party to administer the plan, rather than buying coverage from the third party, they are operating a health plan, just as surely as Mutual of Omaha or Aetna.  All the same rules regarding confidentiality that apply to providers apply to health plans.

          AOL has been rather tight-lipped about the funding model for their health plan, for obvious reasons.  If they're self-funded, their CEO made a very public, very serious error.  

        •  HIPAA applies (0+ / 0-)

          whenever access to health information is in question.  I sell life insurance, and I can know nothing about the underwriting applied to an application without a HIPAA release from the applicant.

          "Get over it...and get out of the way." -- Gov. Steve Beshear (D-KY)

          by mspicata on Wed Feb 12, 2014 at 06:43:11 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  "We aren't commenting on these issues." (7+ / 0-)

    Which is lawyer talk for, "The lawsuit will be very expensive."

    "I'm super brain. That's how they made me." - Goldfrapp

    by Beg4Nothing on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 01:13:21 PM PST

  •  AOL - is that an acronym for something? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nespolo

    In any event, don't think I never heard of them.

    I suspect they'll soon be out of business, like those companies that used to sell CDs via mail.

  •  I'm glad (0+ / 0-)

    ...this issue is being kept alive.  Thanks McJoan.

    50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

    by TarheelDem on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 01:35:37 PM PST

  •  Comments (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chico David RN, sfgb

    I'll assume that AOL self-insures its health plan and then farms out the claims processing to one of the big health insurance companies.

    The claims records, because of HIPPA, should stay in the hands of the claims processor, except in aggregated form (e.g, there were x claims against your plan for $y dollars total).  The whole point is to keep your boss and your employer from finding out about your medical history.  There is presumably breakdown by plan component but this probably wouldn't get to "distressed pregnancy."

    And if he's not familiar with this (Armstrong is a typical Republican "professional leader", a long way of saying that he's basically rather stupid but has good hair) he won't know that (a) AOL likely has a re-insurance policy, so if an employee has $1 million in claims, some part of that (probably everything over $50k/employee/year) is picked up by the reinsurance company; (b) you need to look at actual payouts, not the list price from the providers (which is usually some crazy number that no insurance plan will pay, the idea being that they want to max out however much they can get and not leave anything on the table); I'd assume the employer would know how much the carrier's network saved them; (c) Publicly discussing an employee's medical history violates a lot of laws.

    What's important here is that this is another example of a conservative starting with an ideologically driven belief (ACA is bad and sick people are "takers" and women get pregnant and therefore aren't as qualified as men), picking up any anecdotes that he hears to support this (in the process justifying his decision to trash employer contributions to employee 401k plans), and spouting them out.

  •  If only (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VeggiElaine, Nespolo

    ...health insurance were decoupled from employment in a system like Canada's or Switzerland's this wouldn't even be an issue.

  •  What the fuck did you just say?!?!?!?! (0+ / 0-)
    But AOL shareholders should be more than a little concerned that the guy steering this company can't keep his mouth shut on something as sensitive as employees' privacy, or apparently can't make good enough business decisions to prevent the company from catastrophic medical costs.
    How is he supposed to prevent the company from such medical costs?

    Is he supposed to screen his employees and exclude those who have family that may be likely to incur large medical costs?

    Joan, did you seriously not think about the ramifications of what you wrote?

    What about genetic disorders, is he supposed to make a business decision to screen the dna of applicants and shitcan the resume's of those women with the BRCA breast cancer gene... to do as you say and prevent the company from catastrophic medical costs?

  •  A major concern with "health promotion" programs (0+ / 0-)

    The ACA encourages companies to initiate health promotion programs for their insured employees and this was already happening in a big way even before that.  The idea of promoting healthy behavior in the workplace is not new and not in itself a bad thing - things like offering smoking cessation classes, or subsidizing gym memberships, or encouraging cycling to work are harmless and an all-around good thing.  But what we are increasingly seeing is a coercive approach in which employees are penalized for not participating and are required to provide a lot of very personal and intrusive information to their employer as part of the process.  My union has been fighting against including forced participation in our contracts for the last few years - and this will start to impact a lot more workers in the near future.

    "Wouldn't you rather vote for what you want and not get it than vote for what you don't want - and get it?" Eugene Debs. "Le courage, c'est de chercher la verité et de la dire" Jean Jaures

    by Chico David RN on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 03:13:02 PM PST

  •  Seems Pretty Obvious To Me (0+ / 0-)

    Why is it that no one seems to be able to figure out how AOL's health insurance plan could cost it a couple of million dollars for two sick kids? Seems to me the most obvious answer is that AOL bought crappy, do-nothing health insurance for its employees, and when two of them turned up to need REAL medical care, the insurance didn't cover it. THAT'S WHY THE ACA IS SO NECESSARY!!! Because it told insurance companies they can't sell do-nothing/cover-nothing plans anymore!

    •  Umm... (0+ / 0-)

      ...isn't it more likely that if AOL was providing "crappy do nothing" health insurance for their employees, there may have been a cap of $100K or something on what AOL would have paid?

      It's really not hard to spend $1M on a distressed pregnancy (including post and prenatal care) if the baby is severely premature and has additional complications.

      AOL may, now that they have the data (probably blinded and aggregated), much to the chagrin of many posters here, implement a program to encourage their employees to seek more aggressive prenatal care and streamline the pre-approval process/copays needed for maternal tests which may be appropriate to reduce the costs and improve outcomes in these cases. They might do this just because it's in their selfish best interests.

  •  it is possible to protect medical privacy and (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VeggiElaine

    still universalize healthcare - if only we'd let the NSA run the ACA websites

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013 (@eState4Column5).

    by annieli on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 04:25:54 PM PST

  •  ammy says (0+ / 1-)
    Recommended by:
    Hidden by:
    VeggiElaine

    my best friend's mom got paid $14955 the previous week. she makes money on the internet and bought a $359800 condo. All she did was get fortunate and work up the guide exposed on this web page -,,,,,,,,,  ditjobs.com

  •  Having worked on the Employee Benefits side (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sfgb

    I can say that employers know far more about your health than many people realize.  The HR Department knows who's sick, who's on medical leave, who's had major health issues, etc.  They're also the ones making (or helping make) the decision on healthcare coverage.  

    The insurance carrier presents data that reveals considerable detail on prescription usage, hospital charges, high cost care, etc.  So it's fairly easy for the employer to put "2 + 2" together and know which employees have the high medical costs.  This is particularly true if the health plan is self-insured by the company.  Wellness programs are also another source of info for the employer.

    The insurance company doesn't give out the names, but they give detailed enough info that it's fairly easy to figure out. And if the employer is looking for a new carrier they get detailed claims info from the present carrier.  The smaller the company the easier it is to figure out.  I've done work for a large employer with 10,000 employees nation-wide and they could figure out a good bit.

    I've been in the room with HR people and insurance reps, and it's sort of a joke.  Specific employees are discussed.  The insurance reps will never give out names or confirm or deny a specific person with regards to claims, and pretend they don't hear who's being discussed.  But the HR people and company officials will discuss it in front of them.

  •  In 1966 IL Bell wanted to know which birth (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VeggiElaine

    control method I was using. It was legal back then.

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