It worsened when insurance companies tried to pull off as many tricks as possible before the enactment of those laws, too.
It got even worse recently when the GOP majority in the U.S. House of Representatives attempted to toss those laws out of the window, only to appease their insurance company campaign donors.
But now one small, sarcastic ad could be the straw that broke this camel’s back.
Appearing in this week’s print edition of Charleston City Paper:
For me, it took three readings. That might sound stupid on my part, but I kept pausing after the “you could save more than $6,000” line, as if the ad actually recommended a do-it-yourself treatment instead of professional medical care, and was next noticing the Blue Cross/Blue Shield name.
And I guess I stopped at that point because that’s pretty much what I’ve come to expect to hear from a health insurance company. “You don’t need medical attention” and “we won’t cover it” became par-for-the-course responses that not just me, but millions across the country, have come to expect.
Of course, this is an ad to sell medical insurance to the uninsured, not to describe a limitation. But we’re all too familiar with that impersonal “let’s save dollars instead of lives” response from insurance companies.
And the ad itself is offensive because it’s trying to make a joke of something so many already take to be fact. If it’s received to be description of the exact same type of misrepresentation we accept to be the norm, then where’s the punch line?
I’m sure everyone has tales of their own insurance sarcasm, too, myself included. For example, I once had a prescription renewal not just denied, but rewrote, even. I couldn’t have Brand A because there was a new generic. Forget that my doctor argued with them that the generic was created for use with a completely different medical circumstance and was only of secondary applicability to my illness – somebody with no medical training decided I could only have the generic. Which the insurance company also refused to cover, I learned only after the fact, because … (ta da!) it was a new prescription. I got blindly steered out of coverage by some strange policy regarding prescription refills in successive calendar years. The true goal of the insurance company was to work their way out of the cost.
On more than one occasion, an insurance company referred me to physicians within an approved network. Yet, those claims were later denied coverage because (go on – guess!) those doctors were suddenly no longer in the network of that insurance company.
And these personal experiences are just goldfish in a pool of sharks.
Click here to see a few cases that can drop your jaw to your shoelaces, even if you’re well-experienced in insurance shenanigans. A woman rejected by health insurance companies because of the “pre-existing condition” of a rape years before. A teenager dying after an insurance company thought her much-needed liver transplant to be “too experimental.” A four-month-old infant deemed “obese” by an insurance company, which made up that diagnosis to prevent the child from being included on his parents' policy.
With fatal sarcasm practiced by medical insurance companies so frequently that we practically expect it, why did Blue Cross/Blue Shield think we were going to laugh at this new ad?
And historical analysis of advertising says that, instead of gathering interest or amusing anyone, this could only drive potential consumers away.
From a study on this particular advertising method: “(I)rony and sarcasm may impede a proper understanding of the advertisements’ informative intention. This has a negative impact on the assessment by an audience of the importance of the societal issues emphasized in sarcastic announcements.” (Lagerwerf, L (2007). Irony and sarcasm in advertisements: Effects of relevant inappropriateness. Journal of Pragmatics, 39 (10), 1702-1721.)
In other words, BlueCross/Blue Shield of South Carolina, not only does your ad suck, but it’s making folks think your company sucks even more, too.