Rocky, Bullwinkle, Wellness, and the American Journal of Managed Care
Some of you might remember the closing credits of Rocky and Bullwinkle. Due to copyright restrictions, we can display only a “fair use” snippet. (“Fair use” means you could use one question from Quizzify as an example without special permission as long as you cite the source, but if you tried to copy the whole thing, we’d get elected president, hire a special prosecutor, and throw you in jail.)
Rocky asks: “You got the credits, Bullwinkle?”
Bullwinkle replies: “All on this itty-bitty card…oops” and then it folds out:
(Source: Jay Ward Productions.)
So what does this have to do with wellness, besides nothing?
Simple –I just consolidated all the lies and harms of the Wellsteps/Koop Award into one itty-bitty posting for the American Journal of Managed Care blog. And it also folds out — with links to all the other “smoking guns” in this scandal. If you just want to forward one article around, that’s the one.
Kudos to American Journal of Managed Care for going where Health Affairs fears to tread, by posting the entire, unbowdlerized expose in all its sordid glory. Indeed one would think the latter publication would show some contrition for having started this “pry, poke and prod” mess, by publishing the original Baicker propaganda — with no disclosure of the authors’ conflicts of interest or funding sources…and apparently also no peer review. This thing has been cited 250 times. And that was after it was shown to have been made up. It has 549 citations in total.
Sadly, in addition to not being subject to any other regulations, wellness is not subject to Pottery Barn Rules. Health Affairs created this mess, but they don’t need to pay for it. Quite the contrary, the Health Affairs “impact factor” has probably been boosted more by this article’s 549 citations than almost any other article they’ve ever published. And guess who has to clean up after them?
(Source–you guessed it–Jay Ward productions. These are the closing credits to Mr. Peabody.)
Kudos also, by the way, to the perpetrators of the Wellsteps fraud — Steve Aldana, Ron Goetzel, Seth Serxner. They have the good sense not to take my bait by actually attempting to rebut. The one time they did, in Sharon Begley’s article, their “rebuttal” took the form of basically admitting they had made the whole thing up.
Abe Lincoln seems to be in the news a lot this week, and he put it best: “Better to be thought a fool and say nothing than to speak out and remove all doubt.” Words the Wellness Ignorati should live by. You’d think they would have learned that by now.
Now is your chance to fight back against intrusive, coercive wellness programs!
I hate to knock the HealthFairs USA posting off the front page, since it is still bringing in lots of hits and providing lots of laughs. (If you missed the addendum, their reference site is Wells Fargo.)
However, there is some time-sensitivity on this more serious one. My AARP friends (and, yes, I am old — that picture on linkedin is from 2006, and I wasn’t young even then) are the only ones brave enough to fight the good fight against the Business Roundtable and US Chamber of Commerce, whose goal is to make wellness programs so onerous that most employees will fail them…and the penalties will flow right to the bottom line of their member companies. (It is ironic that while both candidates talk about the forgotten working class, neither is actually willing to stand up to their overlords on the subject of forced wellness programs, one of the few places where there really is a simple solution that would help working people.)
Here’s what they have to say and have asked me to disseminate in real time:
Does your employer charge you more for health insurance if you don’t give your health information to the “wellness” program? AARP thinks participation in workplace wellness programs should be genuinely voluntary. If you must surrender your or your family’s health information to a wellness program in order to avoid paying higher insurance premiums, AARP needs to hear from you now! We are especially interested in hearing from AARP members who are being affected by wellness “incentives.” Please share your story, privately and confidentially, by contacting Brian Dittmeier at email@example.com by no later than October 17, 2016.
HealthFairs USA: A wellness program that defies description
The English language contains 450,000 words, the most of any language, but apparently it needs a 450,001st. Why? Because whoever invented the first 450,000 words had obviously not reviewed HealthFairs USA’s wellness program, which no existing word comes close to describing.
First, they test for cancer — with 99% accuracy! This precision may seem impossible but their claim is correct in that 99% of the words in the clipping below are indeed spelled accurately. (This is actually a better track record than the rest of their website, in which they describe their “unparallelled” customer service and how they “minimize your companies risk” and “build company moral.” They also advertise “less call-outs for sickness,” by which I suspect they mean “fewer absences.”)
Besides the slight problem that this statement is beyond absurd about a zillion different ways, Preventest lacks FDA approval (and — equally surprisingly given their accuracy — a Nobel Prize). That doesn’t stop HealthFairs USA from submitting claims to insurance companies and promising “no out of pocket cost” in most cases:
By the way, there is no FDA-approved genetic “check swab,” or test of any kind, let alone one with 99% accuracy, for any cancer. And few cancers on this list even have a genetic component. (Bladder cancer, for example, is 100% environmental.)
But wait…there’s more. Now how much would your insurance company pay? HealthFairs USA is selling worthless nutritional supplements and submitting insurance claims for those as well:
Let’s review what they’ve told us so far: they perform useless, non-FDA-approved tests and sell useless, non-FDA-approved supplements to employees who don’t need them, and then submit bills to third party payors. Can anyone spell insurance fraud? I doubt they can, since they can’t even spell “alleviates.” (So much for their 99% accuracy target.)
How does this benefit employees?
Lots of ways. Employees can submit to more frequent screenings. And I’ve always said the problem with the US healthcare system is that employees don’t get screened enough. (not!)
Or, they can take medications. It’s not clear which ones, and there aren’t any “medications” that are FDA-approved for preventing most cancers in any case. But whichever ones you take, I’m sure they’ll figure out how to bill the insurance company for them. Most importantly, you can “have risk reducing surgical procedures.” Let’s see…what word can describe a wellness vendor recommending surgery for employees tagged by non-FDA-approved cancer screens for a possibly elevated risk of cancer?
Hmm…maybe we need a 450,002nd.
Indeed, a true wellness program might consist of warning employees not to get anywhere near HealthFairs USA, so clearly these people don’t have any accounts of any sophistication, right? Right?
Wrong. Here are their accounts:
That means they are submitting insurance claims to their insurers on behalf of their employees, as directed and incentivized by their human resources department. I’m not a practicing attorney, but I am a practicing non-idiot, and as such my opinion would be that Coca-Cola and others look into this posthaste.
Plus, it’s not like they’re completely fraudulent. They have references from stellar companies with outstanding reputations:
Full disclosure: I’m not 100% sure that it is actually illegal to submit insurance claims for useless, unapproved, possibly harmful, USPSTF D-rated screens and useless, unapproved, probably harmful, supplements for employees who have no diagnosis, no recognized medical necessity and aren’t seen by a real doctor.
Quite the contrary, my opinion may only be 99% accurate.
If Wellsteps and the Koop Committee can show they aren’t lying, they can collect the $1-million reward
Those of you with long memories may recall our standing offer of a $1-million reward to anyone who can show that the wellness industry has broken even during this century. You need a long memory because no one ever claimed the reward. For all the bluster of Ron Goetzel and his cronies, apparently none of them actually believe what they say…or they would be $1-million richer.
Oh, wait, in the case of both Ron Goetzel and his cronies, maybe they haven’t claimed the reward because they do believe what they say.
The offer is legally binding. There are clear rules. There is an entry fee, but it is refundable to the claimant if they win.
We would now extend that offer specifically to Wellsteps and/or the Koop Award Committee, and we’ll throw in HERO too, since it’s all the same inbred crowd. All they have to show is what they have already claimed: that Wellsteps made Boise School District employees so much healthier — perhaps by reciting their mantra that “it’s fun to get fat and it’s fun to be lazy” — that the School District could, as a direct result of this enhanced employee health, reduce their healthcare benefit spending by roughly one-third after three years.
To make it extra easy for the these people, I’ll relax the requirements:
- They can submit the existing “This Is How You Win a Koop Award” self-congratulatory paean. That means both that they don’t have to do any extra work (besides adding to up 20 links at their option, as the rules allow), and that the word limit on the reward application is waived to accommodate the size of that posting.
- Any or all Koop Committee members can participate with you in the oral arguments, but I myself am not allowed to bring a second. This means they can gang up on me, by crowdsourcing their IQs.
And of course they already know what arguments I am going to make because I posted them. That’s like having the debate questions in advance.
They would have to file the entry fee, or formally request a month’s extension, by November 1. The only reason for the deadline is that when they ignore this offer, as they inevitably will, I can start saying they are admitting they’re lying as early as November 2.
As with the regular award, I am perfectly happy to offer it the other way around, where I pay the entry fee, and I have to prove they’re lying, as opposed to them proving they are telling the truth. That way they can’t say the game is rigged, since I’m willing to play either hand.
Since the Koop Committee members are all such civic-minded citizens, they need not personally collect the windfall if they win. I am perfectly willing to — indeed, would prefer to — donate a million dollars to the Boise School District, either as an unrestricted gift or to set up a fund to update, enhance, and increase employee (and student) access to their fitness facilities and equipment.
Surely, Mr. Aldana and Mr. Goetzel, if you truly care about the health and well-being of those employees, you will make the small effort required to secure this million-dollar contribution on their behalf.
And, Mr. Aldana, please don’t pretend you aren’t applying for the award because you are unaware of my work. For instance, you view my Linkedin profile with a regularity roughly halfway between obsessive and man-crush.*
*As recently as…