Monday, March 17, 2008

List Day: What Your HMO Can Do For You

My health insurance at work is HMO-based, because the only time I ever go into a doctor's office is when I run out of lollipops. The driving principle behind HMO care is that if you make it difficult enough to get to the expensive doctor, no one will ever get that far, everyone will die, and the company makes millions of dollars. You have to get through the first line of defense, the hard-to-schedule general practitioner visit, and then get a referral to the specialist you need.

Recently, CIGNA added a zeroth line of defense: a toll-free Health Information Library number you can call to get encyclopedic information about whatever illness or disease you have. After dialing the number, you punch in a four digit code from the seven page directory they used your deductibles to print and mail. Here are some of the topics they have created automated recordings for:

    3007 Constipation
    3020 Hypothermia in Older Adults
    3102 Allergy Proof Your Home
    3316 Club Drugs
    3325 Drugs in the Workplace
    3335 Incest
    3339 Masochism
    3348 Pedophilia
    3368 Voyeurism
    3196 Ingrown Toenail
    3180 Shoes: Proper Fit Prevents Problems
    3244 Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis
    3504 Brain Tumor (self-diagnosis may not be a good idea here...)
    3700 Alcoholic Parent
    3703 Attitude - Make it Positive!
    3709 Burns in Children (burns ON children must be another code)
    3716 Dating Concerns
    3762 Rules: How to Live With Them
    3783 Undescended Testicle
    4008 Constipation (in case 3007 didn't answer your question)
    4101 Aerobic Dance Injuries
    4220 Something In Your Eyes (it's not just a song)
    4307 Child Spacing (we recommend standard double-spacing)
    4434 Touching in Renewing Sexuality
    4437 Water: Essential for Good Health
    4703 Dealing with Feelings About Food
    4651 Bathroom Safety
    4900 Animal and Human Bites
Accident ruins 800-lb date
Hansen: Centenarian celebrates with women, wings
At least it's not blood

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