Mississippi State Health Insurance survey bogus questions


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45crittergitter
January 1, 2008, 05:44 PM
APS Healthcare, the contracted provider for certain health insurance services provided by the State of Mississippi to its employees, requires that participants complete an online survey concerning their health and lifestyle issues in order to reap the maximum financial benefits from the policy. The survey contains several bogus firearm questions falsely stipulating that possession of firearms makes one more prone to injuries. My letter was as follows:


Mississippi State Firearm Owners Association

“We are the NRA”

October 2, 2007

HealthMedia/APS Healthcare
130 South First St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen:

I am writing in my capacity as Vice President of the Mississippi State Firearm Owners Association and on behalf of all Mississippi residents. It has come to our attention that your company, which is contracted to the State of Mississippi’s employee health care program through Blue Cross/Blue Shield, requires that Mississippi employees complete a “Health Risk Assessment” in order to receive the State’s wellness benefit. One question of the assessment reads as follows:

"Are ALL of the following statements TRUE for you?

I do not possess any firearms.
I do not drink and drive or ride with anyone who has been drinking.
I always wear a seatbelt whenever I am driving or riding in a car.
I drive within 5 mph of the speed limit, or I don't drive at all.

Yes
No"

The electronic assessment will not let one proceed further without answering the question.

The implications of this question are clear, but I will state them for the record:

1)Possession of firearms increases one’s risk of injury
2)Drinking and driving increases one’s risk of injury
3)Wearing a seatbelt when driving or riding in a car decreases one’s risk of injury
4)Driving at any speed other than the posted speed limit + 5 mph increases one’s risk of injury

Also for the record, I will state the errors in the above implications:

1)This is simply a false implication. ALL data on the subject indicates that possession of firearms is associated with LOWER risk of injury or death than nonpossession.
2)At best, this statement is poorly worded, as it does not mention what kind of drink. If apple juice increases risk, so does eating, etc., yet that is not mentioned.
3)Again, this statement is poorly worded. There are off-road and special circumstances which dictate that one unbuckle for safety. Further, it only discusses cars, not vans, SUVs, trucks, etc.
4)False implication. The posted speed limit is a politically dictated rule, sometimes having nothing to do with risk or safety. The logical conclusion of this statement is that driving more than 5 mph below the posted limit during poor driving conditions, such as icy roads, hailstorms, dense fog, heavy slow traffic etc., is somehow more risky than blindly flying down the road at the posted 70 mph (+5 mph) limit.

I am only going to address item (1) above. Sources can be provided. The presumption posed by this question is provably false, as well as addressing an insignificant risk relative to other risks not questioned. Gun ownership is always statistically associated with lower rates of injury and death. For instance, from 1945 to 1990, the number of firearms was up 353%, yet fatal accidents were down 41%. Gun carrying is also so associated, to the tune of some 8.5% fewer murders, 5% fewer rapes and 7% fewer aggravated assaults, with no attendant increase in accidental deaths (less than one more annual death nationwide), when gun carrying is made legal.

There were 900 firearms related accidental fatalities in the U.S. in 1998, (less than 0.4 per 100,000) the lowest number since 1903. This is about the same as for cycling and boating, and about half that of swimming or auto accidents. Accidental poisonings accounted for 9,000 deaths, or ten times that of firearms. However, I found no questions on your assessment about cycles, swimming, boats or poison. Interestingly, the firearms fatality count is less than 1% of the 98,000 Americans who die yearly from medical mistakes made by health care professionals (YOUR BUSINESS), or the 106,000 who similarly die from adverse drug reactions. I didn’t see those questions on the risk assessment either.

Finally and most importantly, the question itself is egregious, offensive and prejudicial. It is what is known in the medical and legal professions as a “boundary violation,” or “off-limits,” as it is no more your (or the State’s) business than what church one attends or what books one reads. To require such information as ransom from State employees while holding hostage their paid-for health care benefits is unconscionable, and we expect that question to be removed prior to the next assessment period beginning on January 1, 2008.

Sincerely,

Vice President
Mississippi State Firearm Owners Association


cc: Governor Haley Barbour
BCBSM State Health Plan
MS DFA
AHS State Network
NRA-ILA



Their response, received this week, included the following statements:

"Thank you for your very passionate and explicit feedback concerning our Health Risk Assessment tool..."

"As such, in the coming year, you and your members will see more flexibility in the ability to respond to questions on sections of the assessment. In regards to your specific concern regarding guns and their link to injury, the State of Mississippi Motivating Mississippi Keys to Healthy Living program has removed those questions from the assessment."


The lesson here is don't take this stuff lying down. Always object, and call a spade a spade. Sometimes we win.

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cambeul41
January 1, 2008, 06:12 PM
Splendid letter with a surprisingly suitable response.

Congratulations!

alsaqr
January 1, 2008, 07:09 PM
"The lesson here is don't take this stuff lying down. Always object, and call a spade a spade. Sometimes we win."

Bingo!!! Good work.

Standing Wolf
January 1, 2008, 08:36 PM
Well done!

longtooth
January 1, 2008, 09:10 PM
This is excellent writing w/ outstanding reasoning.

Robert Hairless
January 1, 2008, 10:34 PM
Well earned applause to you and your organization. Good going.

Cougfan2
January 2, 2008, 12:40 PM
Very well done. It serves all of us well to remember that insurance companies rarely do anything with our benefit in mind, only theirs. Their goal is to take in as much money as possible while paying out as little as possible. This is not so much a dig at insurance companies as it is just a statement of fact.

MS .45
January 2, 2008, 12:53 PM
Nice work on your part and a surprisingly reasonable response from them.

mcooper
January 3, 2008, 08:58 AM
to OP; I was completely UNAWARE of a local pro-gun State group.

If they have a decent amount of active members; this could be a boon in the upcoming legislative season as I have a State Rep. Willing to introduce some pro-gun legislation....

chadwickms
January 3, 2008, 11:06 AM
to OP; I was completely UNAWARE of a local pro-gun State group.

If they have a decent amount of active members; this could be a boon in the upcoming legislative season as I have a State Rep. Willing to introduce some pro-gun legislation....

I, as well, was unaware. Website? Information on joining? Etc?

I also have a state rep that has told me he will introduce bills to lower the amount of time it takes to get a CCW permit and take churches off the list of "no guns" places in the statute.

Thanks.

308nato
January 5, 2008, 11:47 PM
That was a great letter good work.
It is good they saw the error of there ways.

Im283
January 6, 2008, 12:38 AM
I will waste Oleg's bandwidth to add

RIGHT ON!!

qbpc
January 6, 2008, 12:44 AM
Good going. I to want to know info on Mississippi State Firearm Owners Association.

BB

45crittergitter
January 6, 2008, 03:58 PM
Thanks for the interest and compliments, folks. For those who asked, see http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?p=4061970#post4061970 for info on the MSFOA. We would love to have you, and you do not even have to me a Mississippi resident. We are also interested in the offers of help with legislative matters. You can e-mail me at goodbet2000@bellsouth.net

Please also feel very free to plagiarize as needed in support of the cause.

sailortoo
January 6, 2008, 05:01 PM
I was just ready to ask permission to copy for future reference, when your "feel free to plagerize" statement was posted. Well researched, well written, on spot! Thanks. :)
sailortoo
Semper Paratus (also)

ADKWOODSMAN
January 6, 2008, 05:21 PM
Thank you for standing up for people's rights.

Guntalk
January 6, 2008, 06:53 PM
Nice job, Jeff. It is in line with our new "No Shrug" policy.

No more shrugging and saying "that's just the way it is."

Now, we DO something about it.

LSCurrier
January 6, 2008, 07:09 PM
AWESOME!!!

Your letter was absolutely perfect!!

Luke

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