Over the top

Breakneck Creek in October

As I sat down to write up my post today, I discovered a draft of a post called “Notes from the woods.”  There were no words.  Just images.  The photos were taken back in October when there was still quite a bit of color in the woods.  I thought about trashing the post, but the photos insisted on having their day, and the woods were just too pretty to say no to them.

The vernal creek

This morning was interesting.  I spent part of it sitting with a feeling of frustration and, I gotta tell ya, as far as companions go, frustration is not a good one to have around.  It would have been easy to walk away from it, but I was curious as to why I was frustrated to the point of tears, and wanted to get to the bottom of it.

Another view of the creek

Last year during open enrollment season, our health insurance company offered a 10% discount if we filled out a Personal Health Record (PHR) online.  I spent several weeks trying to access mine, going back and forth with their tech support, getting frustrated and feeling stupid (because many tech support people are very good at making the people they are helping feel that way).  I would have given up, but since I am no longer the recipient of a paycheck, a 10% discount is a big help and a huge chunk of change.

Cascade of color

I did eventually get to the health survey only to find that they were asking questions I prefer not to discuss with anyone other than my doctor or my husband (or maybe a really close friend).  They say the purpose of filling out this survey and answering personal questions is to help me live a healthy lifestyle.  Well, that’s cool but I’ve seen no evidence of that.  They won’t pay for a gym membership and personal trainer so I can learn how to exercise properly to lose weight and prevent injury.  There are no discounts for healthy eating, regular exercise, yoga, meditation, etc.  I haven’t received so much as an email from them over this past year, offering me health tips.  Prevention is not the name of the medical insurance game here in the U.S.  It ought to be, but it’s not.  Plus I have serious doubts about putting personal information into an online health insurance data base since there are no guarantees of privacy.  I’ve had to have credit cards cancelled because an account was hacked so I know there are no guarantees.

The woods today. (All of the rest of the photos in this post are from today’s walk.)

Fast forward to this morning.  It is open enrollment season again, and the PHR has to be filled out again in order to get that 10% discount.  I spent a half hour following their instructions and could not access my PHR.  I am not a stupid person.  I can follow directions.  The problem, I suspect, is once again on their end.  The other problem is that I’m still not comfortable with the idea of answering personal questions online for strangers to use as they will.  To be honest, I was not entirely honest when I answered those questions last year.  And last year, I was okay with that because I felt some things are none of their business.

So, digging down into the frustration, I realized that the root of the problem is the dilemma this has caused.  Honesty vs. privacy.  I’m guessing a lot of folks wouldn’t have a problem being less than honest in this situation.  I didn’t.  But that was last year.  This year I’m more inclined towards living an authentic and honest life, an inclination that has me questioning things I might have let slide in the past.


There is one other factor in all of this, too.  I understand how helpful it would be to have my medical history in one place.  It might even be lifesaving.  My doctor is not online.  She doesn’t even provide an email address for her patients.  Her charts are still done by hand.  I suppose it’s possible that this medical history I’m filling out online could be the beginnings of a database that has the potential to be beneficial.


I don’t think that’s the case with this particular company or PHR.  Having dealt with plenty of insurance companies over the years, I suspect their motivation is geared more towards their profit margins than it is towards helping me.  If they are not honest in their dealings with me, do I have an obligation to be honest in my dealings with them?  (Aside from health insurance fraud, which is not what I’m talking about here.)

What do you think?  How would you deal with this issue?

Today’s view of the pond

Thanks for visiting, and reading as I ramble on about fun times with health insurance.  I hope your day has been smooth, easy, and frustration-free.  If not, I highly recommend a walk outdoors.  It works wonders.

There is still some color to be found if you look hard enough for it.

Physically you are a human being, but mentally you are incomplete.  Given that we have this physical human form, we must safeguard our mental capacity for judgment.  For that, we cannot take out insurance; the insurance company is within:  self-discipline, self-awareness, and a clear realization of the disadvantages of anger and the positive effects of kindness.

~ His Holiness the Dali Lama


26 Comments on “Over the top”

  1. It’s sad that the insurance industry in this country can’t be trusted, but they really can’t be. Love these images and the title “Notes from the Woods.” Glad you didn’t scrap these photos.

    • Robin says:

      Thank you, Kathy. 🙂

      The world would be a much better place if there was trust, but you’re right. The insurance industry really can’t be trusted.

  2. tedgriffith says:

    Loved the images, Robin. I don’t know the answers to the questions, but I will pose one in return: Is your integrity worth the 10%?

  3. mobius faith says:

    Really nice shots Robin. I especially like “the woods today” image.
    Insurance —– don’t get me started. Just thinkin’ about it makes me want to take a walk in the woods. 🙂

  4. Val says:

    I’m very wary indeed about filling in more personal data than I feel is needed, on forms. I don’t care what it’s for, I just don’t think it’s right. However – often there is the problem of whether one can find alternatives that don’t ask for the same info. If you can find another health insurance provider with a less intrusive form and the same or a similar discount, I’d go for that. If not… you’ve really got to do things that sit well with your conscience, possibly even to the extent of losing the 10% discount. And you know why? Because you’ve got to live with yourself and if it doesn’t feel comfortable – it won’t feel good.

    I suppose the main thing is to consider that the health insurance is to help you live a healthy life, but if you’ve anxiety triggered by it… it’s not doing what it should, is it?

    Apart from that – as ever, lovely images.

    • Robin says:

      Thanks, Val. 🙂

      I’m looking into the alternatives, but they’re either more expensive or ask for more less the same info. Insurance drives me batty.

  5. I’m so glad you decided to post these! I love the colors.

  6. aFrankAngle says:

    “Honest versus privacy” is a powerful statement that is more applicable today than ever … and even more so tomorrow. Meanwhile, my fav is “the wood today” pic. Keep smiling1

  7. Ah…a topic close to my heart. Someone quite dear to me was denied insurance for ten years, because they answered a question honestly on one of those forms. The question: “Have you ever attended an AA meeting?” It was sad.
    The real question is, which is the most valuable to you – honesty, privacy, or 10% off? Only you know that. (And, believe me, I totally understand how important the financial part is. It would be nice to say, It’s only money,” but I don’t know a soul who can reasonably do that…)
    Thanks for not trashing that post – the photos are lovely!

    • Robin says:

      Thank you, Marie. 🙂

      Therein lies a big part of the problem — being able to reasonably say “it’s only money.” It is a large sum of money (because insurance is so expensive). There are times when the scale is heavily weighted towards privacy and money vs. honesty. I do value my privacy and, as you’ve pointed out, answering a question honestly on an insurance form might mean being denied coverage for something later on down the line.

      In the meantime, I’m looking for a way around it. Hopefully one of the alternatives offered will be a good fit.

  8. jane tims says:

    Hi Robin. It’s hard to judge every situation, but I hope your answers couldn’t be used to deny you coverage. I have answered a lot of questions in the past to get coupons etc. and I think I gave out way too much information. Read their fine print. Hmmm. I like your ‘Gnarly’ photo. Jane

  9. I love the shot of the woods today.

    The gimmicks the insurance companies are bombarding us with these days are frustrating to me, too. The hassle is not worth the 10% discount to me – every time we turn around there is another form to fill out with a menacing deadline looming on the horizon. My husband is currently jumping through all their hoops and so now the health “coaches” call him about once a week and want to talk to him for nearly an hour. And as Jane points out above, I get the feeling that somehow our answers could be used to deny coverage or raise premiums. Maybe when Obamacare is more fully implemented it will put an end to all this nonsense. Keeping my fingers crossed!

  10. Unless there’s a legal requirement for honest answers (fraud prevention etc.) I just tell them whatever I want to. I get especially irritated when people who don’t need it, keep asking me to give my date of birth – I just make one up on the spot!

    As to exercising – if you’re getting out with your camera in the great outdoors, I’d say that’s better than any gym. I just walk everywhere and go up as many hills as I can. I also like to get out on my pedal bike too. That way, exercise is never boring. As to dieting – I just don’t buy anything in which is bad for me. If I bought something like a pack of biscuits (probably cookies to you), I’d eat the lot in one sitting, so I just don’t buy any. Kinda sad for folks calling round for coffee but that doesn’t happen too often…

    I’m very jealous of your photos – they’re always superb!

  11. Sallyann says:

    Lovely photos again. 🙂
    I think that only you can answer these questions but I find that asking them “out loud” is often very useful so I hope we helped by just being here. 🙂

  12. Dana says:

    The situation is a lot different up here in Canada, but I’d personally be leery of divulging everything to an insurance company. My doctor is one thing, but insurance carriers? Um, no. It’s frustrating to be in a situation where you even have to contemplate giving up your privacy in order to make the bills a little more manageable. There’s absolutely no justice in that!

    • Robin says:

      I agree, Dana. No justice at all in that. I think that may be true of insurance in general, as we found out this past summer when our car was totaled. We’re still dealing with the fall-out of that, trying to get the insurance company to pay what they should be paying. It’s like pulling teeth.

  13. Beautiful images, Robin – a nice counterpoint to the awful dilemma you write about. As for your question: I guess for me, privacy would trump the discount, even though the latter would be very helpful. I don’t believe them for a moment when they say they want this info to help you be healthier – I believe it’s all about collecting and selling info to drug companies whose main motive is profit margin.

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