Saturday, September 27, 2008

What's in *your* MIB?, part 2

A few weeks ago I linked to a video and post on the e-patient blog, about a woman who says she's been turned down for insurance repeatedly. According to Consumer Reports, she found out that the reason was an error in her MIB record. And as a consequence, her 401(k) has been completely drained by covering her ongoing health costs without insurance.

So I wrote my post, and for the time, that was that. But then I was contacted by an MIB official, and I had an extended exchange of emails with him. I asked the questions I posted on the e-patient blog:

  • Is anybody, anywhere responsible for the accuracy of your MIB record?
  • Is anybody liable for the consequences of reckless or negligent errors, or even for simple human mistakes?
  • Is anybody required, under penalty of law, to correct such errors and make restitution for benefits that were wrongly withheld due to the errors?
In all our exchanges I didn't get direct answers to any of those questions, but here's the bottom line as I read it:

  • Nobody (not nobody, not nohow) is responsible for whether their information in your MIB record is accurate. It's entirely up to you to detect and fix any errors. Most of the responses I got amounted to detailed repetition of how to request your MIB (during the hours that their robot phone answerer is turned on) and how to request a fix.

  • Nobody (not nobody, not nohow) is responsible for any economic damage suffered by a patient as a result of such errors. Nobody, that is, except the patient (aka the victim).

In other words, the MIB and its contributors are not the least bit responsible for doing anything right, and if they don't, it's entirely and exclusively your problem.

I think you ought to contact them every year and get your annual free copy of what's in your MIB record, because it could be wrong, and it could cause you real harm.

But don't call right now - they shut off the phone answering computer on weekends and evenings, when most people are free to call and spend the seven minutes it takes to file your request through their robot.

Personally, I think the whole situation is disgusting, and I think some legislation would be in order.

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