I was slightly out of breath. I hadn’t realized how big my soapbox was.
I was ready to pontificate about the jerks and fools that had crossed my path today. I was ready to relay to you, my readers, how these cretins had ruined my plans and disorganized my agenda. And I was prepared to skewer the cowards who are unable to handle the rigors of life in the America of 1992.
But I had to stop. I had to because it became apparent that they, and you, and I are all victims. We have lost our privacy. We are losing our dignity. And the word RESPECT has effectively been eliminated from our vocabulary. There was no point in skewering anyone. We are all innocent bystanders.
My industry is filled with snoops. It is part of the business. We collect data, analyze it, and then decide how good a particular risk is. We ask specific, detailed questions. We talk to doctors. We check medical records. And we often send blood and urine samples to the laboratory.
We need this information so that we can properly underwrite you as a risk. But do we need all the info we seek? I don’t know.
I sat across from Bob in his new office. He had just signed the application for a large life insurance policy. Everything was terrific until I reminded him that he was going to have a blood test. The test would check him for a variety of things including drugs and AIDS. He freaked. He didn’t want to take an AIDS test. Period. Over the next fifteen minutes he detailed his extremely limited sexual history. (It would have only taken five minutes but he kept repeating himself.) I sat there thinking to myself that I have a better chance of becoming the Pope than he has of having AIDS.
Was Bob over reacting? Yes. Is “ignorance is bliss” a good lifestyle to choose? No. Was I a touch upset? Yes, a little. But, it is his body. And if he really would be happier not knowing whether or not he has AIDS, who am I to force him into confronting the issue? I will find him a different policy or he will simply have less life insurance protection for his wife and sons. It is his choice.
I was eating breakfast with Lou at the Beachwood Marriott two summers ago. He was a Home Office employee of a major insurance company. He confided to me that their blood tests had yet to discover even one HIV positive applicant. I said “Great. Does that mean that we can stop the testing?” He said “NO. You won’t believe how much cocaine we’re turning up!”
It is so easy to be frustrated. Doctors are practicing defensive medicine. They order tests and treatments as much to prevent lawsuits as they do to prevent disease. Medical records reveal that patients aren’t necessarily healthier, just more medicated. And when these people try to buy other insurance, their medical records serve as an impediment.
Your health, your credit, your driving record, etc… are all readily available. Sometimes that makes your life and mine easier. Sometimes it screws up my whole day. But there is no sense in being mad at anyone; not the client who has chosen to slow down the runaway train of information collection, not the collectors not even the doctors more interested in protecting themselves than their patients. We are all part of the system. And in our own way, we are all victims.