Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Gradmed: Spending Your Insurance Dollars Wisely

Since my previous post on how exploitative, dishonest, and useless GradMed Health Insurance is, I've had an enormous spike in traffic from the fine folks at GradMed -- since last Friday, they've viewed my blog pages seventy-one times -- have viewed the blog more than four times as much as I have over the same period, an astonishing amount considering that there are only fifty-two pages here -- and spent almost six hours on the site. I've been chatting with them in the comments about the way in which they're negligent in selling a product that even they don't consider a real insurance solution to penniless graduates. They say, "If someone knows that they will need more permanent coverage, many alumni associations sponsor a renewable major medical program through us as well...", neglecting to recognize the fact that everyone needs permanent coverage whether they know it or not, and that the non-permanent coverage they sell only creates pre-existing conditions that are life-long uninsurables.

It didn't occur to me until I was sitting at my desk, procrastinating on my own project, to ask the question: what the hell are these people doing wasting their time at this tiny blog? I mean, look at the drapes. This isn't exactly the Hilton.

So I drilled down into their data a little bit. They found the blog by doing a blogsearch (not a Google search, mind you, but Google's specific search for blogs alone) for "GradMed" and finding my post from there. At that point, the employee that found the site passed it on to another employee, and then spent about the next hour surfing the site and crafting a comment. They checked again at the start of work Monday, and then again about halfway through the day. Since the start of business Tuesday, they stayed on the site continuously until lunch, refreshing or clicking a link at least once every fifteen minutes.

So who is this person? They identified themselves as "Customer Service" in their comment, but it seems clear that one of the things they do on the blog is fighting the war for GradMed on the information front: the IP address that left the comment on my blog is the perpetrator of at least three vandalism reverts on Wikipedia, one of which was an article created to publicize the USI Consulting Group -- GradMed, as far as I can tell, is a subsidiary of USI Insurance Services, a division of USICG.

But none of this is as important as why we care about all this as insurance customers. GradMed/USI doesn't provide care, of course; but they also don't provide insurance. They organize marketing for insurance that they then obtain from state insurers -- they're insurance brokers dealing with alumni associations. But this whole group -- the alumni association, USI, and the insurer -- gets paid with the money you and I send in as premiums. Every billable minute (and all the GradMed access to this site has come during working hours) that they spend promoting, marketing, giving greasy answers to straightforward questions, and making up fake and poorly structured Wikipedia pages is a dollar of your premium money that doesn't get paid in benefits. I am sure that the people at USI consider this good business: I consider it legal embezzlement from America's limited health care resources.

People say that government bureaucracy is inefficient and I agree, it can be -- but it's nowhere near as bad as being a 22 year-old recent graduate, broke, unemployed, and forced to pay for an insurance broker to surf our hooptie blog.

We need a public option to help get the profit motive out of health insurance. The waste and the lies have to stop.


  1. The concept of disallowing pre-existing conditions makes no sense to me. Anyone suffering from a genetically inherited, or even pre-disposed condition has a pre-existing condition. Why should it matter when you contracted your illness, or became symptomatic?

    I am behind the public option. The large private carriers are scared for good reason. Any poicy maker opposing the public option is clearly working for the industry, not protecting their constituent's well being. Oponents calim the public option would be impossible to compete with. I say that the public option would create a competitive climate as opposed to the current monopolistic abuses.

  2. I completely agree, Katy. The only reason that I can think of for insurance companies to refuse pre-existing conditions is because it increases their profit.

    And I think that you're right that those profits are right now being dumped back into our political system in order to defend unfair monopolies -- it's astonishing, for example, that senator Lincoln, Democrat from Arkansas, just voted to delay the debate over health care reform.

    Hopefully, we'll get some change soon, though. I still hold out hope that a strong public option is a real possibility.

  3. thank you for all this info. was looking to possibly pick up this insurance until i can secure a fulltime position with benefits. I am seriousl doubtful of doing this at all now.

  4. thanks as well as i was in the application process and have now decided against it. keep up the good detective work

  5. Thanks for the info. I was going to buy there plan but not anymore. Thanks for heads up.

  6. Thanks for sharing. How come every time something that sounds like a good deal turns up it always seems to be a scam! I'm just glad I check everything out and don't get burned.