Friday, February 16, 2018

Green Shield vs Blue Cross

Institutional ageism appears to be built into the culture of Green Shield Health Insurance. I say that because I have been hearing stories from friends about their dealings with our insurer and because of my first-hand experience. First, I know I am lucky to have extended medical coverage in retirement, but I still expect good service and respect from our insurer. Our Pension Board recently changed from Blue Cross to Green Shield to save members money. Since my health is relatively good as is my wife's we have not had to deal much with our insurer. Friends of mine have been complaining about the service they got with Green Shield and what they used to get with Blue Cross. I thought they were exaggerating, until recently. 

Institutional discrimination is being challenged in today's society. Many women are challenging the sexual discrimination and sexism that has occurred for far too many years in our institutions and our society. Racism has raised its ugly head in the United States because of the attitude of the leadership in that country. In Canada, we, as a society, have yet to come to terms with our racist attitude toward our indigenous people, but we are working (some would say not hard enough) to try to change our attitudes. But institutional and societal racism is still in Canada as noted by the killing of the indigenous youth in Saskatchewan, and the way the RCMP gave the news to his family and the not guilty verdict handed down by an all-white jury.  

Ageism is another form of discrimination that exists in our institutions, and our society. 
Butler defined "ageism" as a combination of three connected elements. Among them were prejudicial attitudes towards older people, old age, and the ageing process; discriminatory practices against older people; and institutional practices and policies that perpetuate stereotypes about elderly people. I believe that Green Sheild practices institutional ageism because they have, I believe discriminatory practices and perpetuate stereotypes about seniors. 

My wife went to her doctor to get some medication and was prescribed the medication for three months by her doctor. I went to the pharmacy and they told me that Green Shield only allows a patient a week for new medication, and after a week Green Shield would allow the patient to get the remainder of the medication. This to me, means that Green Sheild policy shows that the organization believes that seniors do not have the ability to know what is good for them and therefore Green Shield must protect seniors, which is a form of ageism. 

I know that any organization that practices discrimination such as Green Shield will deny that they practice discrimination and ageism, and that is because they are blind to the facts. They may think that they are doing the best for their clients, which of course means they believe the client does not have the ability to make good decisions. Is the development of these policies based on the idea that all seniors become forgetful or get dementia or another form of cognitive slowdown? 

Because they appear to have an institutional ageism, to which they are blind, Green Shield takes a paternalistic attitude towards its patients and has, it appears no problem overriding Doctors, and Specialists who prescribed the medication, which is demeaning to the patient. Because of institutional discrimination against seniors built on ageist policies, Green Shield attitudes towards its clients that are a throwback to the 50's, when paternalistic attitudes were common.

I don't think I am alone in my attitude that Green Shield was not the best choice for us because of their paternalistic and condescending attitude and ageist practices because when I read our newsletter the following caught my eye:

The office staff are spending quite a bit of time dealing with questions and issues around Green Shield Canada (GSC) – the Extended Health Benefit provider for members in the Pension Plan. The move to Green Shield was a decision of the Pension Board of Trustees – not (us). The decision was made following an open competition; other insurance companies were invited to submit proposals and GSC won the competition. 
(We) play no role in this as we have no direct contractual relationship with GSC.

Green Shield appears to have upset many of my colleagues and the executive of the organization appears to be playing a game of "it's not me it is them" to try to placate members. The executive may not have a contractual relationship with Green Shield but they do have an obligation to their members to investigate the issues and if the membership is not happy to make their wishes known to the Pension Board of Trustees. The Pension Board will not listen to individual members but it may listen to an organization that speaks for thousands of members. If the executive chooses not to act then they by their inaction are accepting that institutional discrimination practiced by Green Shield is acceptable to them.

I don't mind paying a bit more to be treated with the respect that I deserve as an adult, instead of being treated like a child by Green Shield so I would not object to a move back to Blue Cross, which did treat us with respect and did not appear to have an institutional culture of ageism and discrimination.

I did send an email stating the above to Green Shield which was taken from their website, however, the email was bounced back. (see below) So Green Shield, which has a Web page dedicated to dealing with customer complaints, doesn't even have an email on its site that is correct. What can I say about poor attitude and poor customer relations?

Delivery has failed on the enclosed message for the following reasons reported either by the mail delivery system on the mail relay host or by the local TCP/IP transport module:
   550 5.1.1 <> recipient rejected
   550 5.1.1 <> recipient rejected

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