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Am I making a big mistake?
Old 07-24-2007, 05:03 PM   #1
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Am I making a big mistake?

Twenty years ago I signed up for a longitudinal cardiac study. Every few years they drag me in for a treadmill test, blood tests for cholesterol, glucose, etc. They assess my diet, weigh me, measure my fat (increasing!) and otherwise prod and poke.

More recently, they've added the occasional carotid artery ultrasound and a heart scan. (I refuse any radiation, as well as the storage of my DNA for some "unknown future use.")

I signed up for this to help contribute to medical knowledge. Lately, however, I've been wondering if this is wise.

They've not found anything out of the ordinary yet, (saints be praised), but what happens if they do?

On the one hand, I'd get a heads-up on any conditions. But I've just read the thread on unnecessary medical tests, and see that screening can do more harm than good.

What's more, if they someday find high blood pressure, or pre-diabetes, or whatever, does it become a "pre-existing condition" and affect my ability to buy medical coverage when I'm no longer working?

On the other hand, these tests might someday prove to an insurer that I did NOT have certain pre-existing conditions -- a good thing.

Currently, I have the results sent to my doctor. I could discontinue that, but nothing is out of reach of the lawyers if they really want it.

Anybody else out there engaged in this type of volunteer program? Has anyone ever run into this or have an educated opinion? Should I continue to do my tiny bit for medical science, or might it come back to haunt me later?

Finally, there an even broader question here -- should one ever try to get tests outside their insurance plan, so as to avoid black marks? For example, would one be wise to get glucose tests from one of those mobile labs and, if found to be pre-diabetic, improve one's diet and exercise without notifying one's doctor and insurer?

I'm probably being really paranoid here, but I worry more about health care than about any other retirement issue, bar none.
:confused:
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Old 07-25-2007, 06:39 AM   #2
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What a great health care system we have when people have to fear participating in studies like this because of what the insurance companies may do with their information.
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Old 07-25-2007, 08:13 AM   #3
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Although I have no fault health insurance, I encounter this same concern for travel insurance. There are so many exclusions for pre-existing conditions, that many people just can't afford to travel. My attitude is that it is better to do the screening and deal with health than try to outwit the insurance company.
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Old 07-25-2007, 02:14 PM   #4
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Caroline, you bring up some interesting dilemmas. It occurs to me that there is a strong altruistic side to volunteering for a research study. What is learned in this controlled, over-scrutinized, over-tested group of volunteers has the potential to improve the outcome of thousands some day.

I know this doesn't answer your concerns, but the setting is different from getting total body scanning at your local Walmart just for fun.
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Old 07-25-2007, 03:26 PM   #5
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What's more, if they someday find high blood pressure, or pre-diabetes, or whatever, does it become a "pre-existing condition" and affect my ability to buy medical coverage when I'm no longer working?
Absolutely.

Rich - your comment is also spot on. Since my little run-in with blue cross and kaiser over an old test that wasnt even accurate, I'm actually leery of getting any tests done that arent absolutely necessary.

Which I guess means the insurance lobby has won. People are afraid to get remedial care because they're afraid that something bad might show up and then they couldnt get coverage.

Stupid.
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Old 07-25-2007, 03:33 PM   #6
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You might discuss this with the study investigators. When using "human subjects" there are often lots of restrictions on data sharing. .

If studies do not address these valid types of concerns, ensuring some type of "immunity" for participants, then this valuable research could be jeopardized. I bet most studies would rather amend their protocols to better protect participants than loose participation, especially in longitudenal studies
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Old 07-25-2007, 03:35 PM   #7
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I guess it depends on your honesty...if you test positive for some condition, when you fill out your application for insurance you're supposed to tell them.

Most insurers put in a clause that says if you didnt tell them about a condition that you were aware of, that you have to pay them back for any and all care rendered, although sometimes you get your premiums handed back to you as well.

After watching what my grocery company can put together with regards to what products I buy and correlated coupons they spit out weeks later, just because I occasionally use the same credit card...I'm a bit leery of the future prospects of cross linked information databases.
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Old 07-25-2007, 04:45 PM   #8
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...I'm a bit leery of the future prospects of cross linked information databases.
I'm actually terrified of where this is all going to lead. My DH was mistakenly diagnosed as being diabetic while undergoing in-hospital testing. Was put on a high dosage of injectable insulin that was totally unnecessary and found out weeks later that he is not diabetic at all. (Put him through hell, but that's another story.)

Almost immediately (literally days) after the mis-diagnosis we started getting mailings from drug companies, pharmacies and other health related companies about diabetes testing equipment and from insurance companies about insurance rates for high risk coverage. Despite the reversal in the diagnosis, we know the info is still in the system. Just try getting something like this changed! Nigh unto impossible. <sigh>
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Old 07-25-2007, 05:13 PM   #9
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Sounds like a HIPAA violation to me!!!
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Old 07-25-2007, 05:35 PM   #10
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I'm actually terrified of where this is all going to lead. My DH was mistakenly diagnosed as being diabetic while undergoing in-hospital testing. Was put on a high dosage of injectable insulin that was totally unnecessary and found out weeks later that he is not diabetic at all. (Put him through hell, but that's another story.)

Almost immediately (literally days) after the mis-diagnosis we started getting mailings from drug companies, pharmacies and other health related companies about diabetes testing equipment and from insurance companies about insurance rates for high risk coverage.
Hmm... very troubling. I would like to know where the big pharma's got their mailing list. Something is wrong.
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Old 07-25-2007, 06:06 PM   #11
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We were unable to ascertain precisely where the info came from -- the hospital and docs involved disavowed any such info release. We finally concluded it probably came from the big-box pharmacy selling the info collected from tracking the prescriptions. (We also received subscription info for diabetes-related magazines.)
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Old 07-25-2007, 06:18 PM   #12
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My DH was mistakenly diagnosed as being diabetic while undergoing in-hospital testing...
Almost immediately (literally days) after the mis-diagnosis we started getting mailings from drug companies, pharmacies and other health related companies about diabetes testing equipment and from insurance companies about insurance rates for high risk coverage. Despite the reversal in the diagnosis, we know the info is still in the system. Just try getting something like this changed! Nigh unto impossible. <sigh>
Good grief. If you could adequately document this you might have a civil suit -- one that is actually called or.
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Old 07-25-2007, 09:52 PM   #13
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HIPAA is relatively new (from the pov of an old fart), but pharmacies are covered by the Act. Google HIPAA, consider whether or not you want to take this on. Costs nothing to file a complaint.
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Old 07-26-2007, 10:36 AM   #14
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Thanks for the advice. Will follow up -- I would hate for anyone else to go thru this hell.
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Old 08-03-2007, 03:36 PM   #15
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What a great health care system we have ...
We don't HAVE a health-care system. We have a disease-management
system !
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Old 08-03-2007, 06:00 PM   #16
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I'd say don't worry about it, you're doing what's right, and seems unlikely it will cause you financial pain down the line. Thank you for volunteering for that medical study.

It is no doubt in the best interest of insurance companies to punish anyone who seeks preventative care, that reduces their bottom line.

It is in the best interest of society as a whole to both volunteer for more such studies, and to get as much preventative care as reasonable, since it ultimately reduces health care costs for everyone.

-Mach
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Old 08-06-2007, 04:43 PM   #17
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They've not found anything out of the ordinary yet, (saints be praised), but what happens if they do?

On the one hand, I'd get a heads-up on any conditions. But I've just read the thread on unnecessary medical tests, and see that screening can do more harm than good.

What's more, if they someday find high blood pressure, or pre-diabetes, or whatever, does it become a "pre-existing condition" and affect my ability to buy medical coverage when I'm no longer working?

On the other hand, these tests might someday prove to an insurer that I did NOT have certain pre-existing conditions -- a good thing.


I'm probably being really paranoid here, but I worry more about health care than about any other retirement issue, bar none.
:confused:
You're not being paranoid at all. Those are VERY legitimate concerns. I would really suggest you read Arthur Agaston's book The South Beach Heart Health Revolution. He is a heart surgeon who believes that we should all be doing what you're doing but he disagrees with many of the current medical interventions.

Also, if they turn up some condition it will very likely go to the Medical Bureau (can't remember the exact name), whose existence I discovered as I was applying for individual health insurance recently. All your medical info is available through this central bureau.

In addition, it doesn't matter how many conditions you prove that you DON"T have; insurance companies ignore that completely and only focus on what might cost them money now or in the future.
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Old 08-06-2007, 05:20 PM   #18
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i think it is wiser to improve one's diet and exercise from the get go.

what if during one of these body scans the lab finds something that could be considered "pre-existing" to a new insurance policy but that might not noticeably effect you until you are in your 90s. do you then get to pay extra high premiums for the next 30 years over a condition which is essentially, at least for now, benign?
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Old 08-06-2007, 07:39 PM   #19
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When I went to the dentist for the Early-retirement-recommended cavity repair, I was in the chair, and the assistant says to me

"Well, how's that heart murmur?"

"Wha??"

It turns out that they gave me my form to update, and when I put it back on the counter, someone else picked it up, thought it was his, and checked a few boxes for his serious conditions.

I asked for a fresh form, and asked that the old form be shredded. I could just picture myself on the phone with BCBS "No, no, I never had a heart murmur!"
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Old 08-06-2007, 07:48 PM   #20
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Well, how's that heart murmur?
That doesn't make you very confident that they worked on the correct tooth now did it ? Maybe you received some dental work that someone else needed.

It's not a total loss though, you helped pay for that new boat that the dentist just bought.
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