The Medical Quack



It’s been 7 years and this blog is like attached to me for the most part and I have given this some real thought here with what I produce with my “views” like everyone else’s that’s on the web and again small independent bloggers can no longer compete.  I get asked all the time to do interviews and I like to do them but it’s mostly from folks that have bigger sponsors or those that are part of a company and I just don’t have the money to a lot of that anymore. 

Being a former developer my data mechanics logic has helped me understand a lot more than I ever thought it would years ago and it does make a difference but I’m finding the world has changed today and living too virtual with a lot of flawed data out there is not good either.

I have had my campaign going for privacy/transparency and I fully realize this is hard thing for consumers to really understand how the big profit epidemic works out there but it does with secretly scoring people right and left and denying access but I can say I tried.

Everything will still be here and nothing will go away and who knows maybe some day when there’s room for independent bloggers to once again participate, I could be back. 

If I were to generate enough in the privacy campaign, that could do it!   I’m finding too that virtual worlds and what is on the web is so far different than what goes on in the real world and I too have to watch that I don’t get skewed too far in one direction or the other.

So for now, the Medical Quack is broke and will be signing off for now.  It’s been a good 8 years and I learned a lot in blogging about healthcare as well.  Again it’s just like everything else out there the small person doesn’t stand much of a chance out there today, where as in the past, things used to be different. 

So long for now…and thank you for your readership!  It’s appreciated!

Barbara Duck

The Medical Quack



A while back Walgreens filed case against Walgreens and Rite Aid on the patent violation and it’s been settled.  In reading this article all seemed to have known about the patent but didn’t care if I’m reading this correctly.

Walgreens Suing CVS, Rite Aid, Wants License and IP Damage Reimbursement, Patent Violations, Software Used For Refilling Prescriptions Via Mobile Phone Scanners…Not Getting Enough Data to Sell?

In the settlement here, each pays their own legal fees and pretty much walks away.  There were no details imageon the Rite Aid settlement.  So there you go, new CVS apps as of July and off to collecting more of your data to sell with the new ecommerce centers opening up.  Both chains make a healthy dollar selling your data, 1-2 Billion a year.  If that bugs you, visit my campaign to where I am trying to get a law passed to have all data sellers buy a license and disclose what kind of data they sell and to what kind of companies.  Heck every time a prescription is filled by customers the data production for sales gets rolling.

CVS to Open New E-Commerce Technology Centers in Boston, New York and Palo Alto– Need “New Code” to Make Bigger Profits While They And Others Continue to Destroy “US Consumer Dignity” With the Exploitations…

The FICO medication scores start rolling and off for sale those go and you don’t even know you have been scored on whether or not you will take your meds, it’s all secret scoring on data they get from all over the place. 

FICO Medication Adherence Scoring Should Be Banned As It’s Quantitated Justifications for Profit That Hurts US Consumers Using Proprietary Algorithms That Cannot Be Replicated For Accuracy or Audited

Also don’t forget if you fill your prescription at a store that sells tobacco, CVS Caremark is going to charge you a higher co-pay so there you go paying for the absence of the tobacco, so if you go to Walgreens, Rite Aid, Wal-mart to fill a Caremark PBM prescription, they’ll zap you for more money.  Yeah we all know they just don’t want you to go anywhere else and it’s all marketing for money.  After reading this and not caring about Walgreen’s patent  and didn’t want to pay for it while it was in use, what will CVS do next I wonder?  BD 

CVS To Charge Consumers Higher Co-Pays With Prescriptions Filled at Drug Stores That Still Sell Tobacco Products–Killer Algorithms Attacking Once Again To Make Sure CVS Gets the Prescription Revenue And Your Data To Score And Sell

Law360, New York (November 25, 2014, 9:59 PM ET) -- Retail pharmacy giants CVS Caremark Co. and Rite Aid Corp. have settled Walgreen Co.’s claims that its rivals were infringing its patent for refilling prescriptions using a mobile device, with CVS agreeing to an injunction against using the technology, according to documents filed Tuesday.
According to Walgreens, CVS' and Rite Aid’s apps for mobile devices, offered on the iPhone and Android platforms, infringe U.S. Patent Number 8,626,530, titled “System and method for express refill.”
In a consent judgment entered Tuesday, CVS said it had released new iPhone and Android apps as of the end of July and was no longer making or using apps that infringed the ‘530 patent. The company agreed to an injunction barring it from doing so in the future in exchange for Walgreens' dismissal of its suit, according to the consent judgment.

The patent, awarded to Walgreens on Jan. 7, covers a method for customers to refill prescriptions in a “quick and hassle-free manner” by scanning a bar code image using the camera on a mobile device, which transmits the information to the retailer and allows the customer to then select a pickup store and time, according to the patent application. This “refill by scan” functionality is incorporated into Walgreens' mobile apps for its customers, alongside other functionality, the company claims.
Although they were aware of the '530 patent, CVS; Rite Aid; the Sun Capital Partners Inc.-owned Shopko; and Mscripts LLC, the developer that made Shopko’s mobile app, have all infringed the patent by including similar functions in their own mobile apps without seeking a license from Walgreens, according to the suits.



Stock buy backs are up for 3 of the major insurers.  The purpose of a stock buy back to increase the value of the stock, since there’s less out there after the fact and basically embellish the officers of the company with a little more money.  Your premiums help finance this action as well as the money has to come from somewhere.  Actually insurers have been doing stock buy backs since the last 80s, before it really became fashionable.  Usually when stock buy backs occur it means that money is not being put into resources of the company to build business.  image

WellPoint announced a couple months ago they are boosting their buy back program by $5 billion which now adds up to a total of $6 billions dollars worth of shares to be bought back.  The buy backs run over a period of years and I don’t know the time frame here.

Aetna added an additional $1 billion in stock buy backs and it had by comparison to WellPoint, a much smaller dollar amount. 

Cigna who’s also not as large has a buy back program I think of around $500 million.

Humana a couple months ago began a $2 billion dollar stock buy back. 

United Healthcare spent $3 billion year to date on stock buy backs and also runs in the Dow Jones Industrial index.  Recently additional shares were added for buy backs and so this brings their entire buy back p back program to $8 billion and they are also providing dividends. 

The cost of insurance has sky rocketed since 2007 and again it depends on where you buy it, exchanges and subsidies and so forth.

Be aware too of the changes in how insurers model polices and the link below will catch you up.  All you need to do is look at the classifieds to see the number of quants in the last couple of years hired  to see the direction they are going.  Actuaries are still used of course but by adding quants to the models the insurers when models are built now get the additional investor profit side from stock which is not normally included in the long term projections of actuaries. 

Data Scientists/Quants in the Health Insurance Business–Modeling Beyond the Speed and Capabilities of Humans To Keep Up With The Affordable Care Act–Turning Into A World of Killer Algorithms That We All Hate..

Think of narrow networks if you will and this is where the quants come in and do their math models and design.  This is why we call it the secret scoring of doctors in the US as no reason is given for why they are kicked out of network, it’s all math and algorithms with United.

“The Secret scoring of America’s Physicians” - Algorithmic Math Models For Insurance Network Contractual Exclusions, Relating to MDs Who See Medicare Advantage Patients..

Sometimes the models change so quickly based on numbers from the quants that the left quant doesn’t know what the right is doing as in the link below where United goes out and wins and bids a Medicare Advantage contract but the doctors had already been fired by another company quant I assume so they had to give up the contract.

Howard County School Board in Maryland Rescinds United Healthcare Contract As Retirees Didn’t Want the Medicare Advantage Plan, No Providers Available..

One other thought to keep in mind is the fact that most insurers have some office site subsidiaries too and exactly how they use them I don’t know, but we know why they exist.  I looked up the one in the Caymans for United and couldn’t even find one officer listed for the company. 

Take a look at the image here in this post and look at the number of administrators compared to the number of doctors and that will give you a big hint why healthcare is so expensive.  These are both hospital and insurer administrators.  Look how many bosses doctors have today. 

So again the constant complexities of insurers is not going to change any time soon and there will be even more disruptions and constant changes  as now they have the investor information built in to the policy models. 

In addition insurance companies make a lot of money selling data a well and the action usually takes place in subsidiary companies.  I can’t even keep track of all the subs that United/Optum has in addition to owning the biggest hospital/healthcare system in Brazil.  They have also said they are looking to buy more health care systems outside the US.  In the UK though, they are not happy with United as the link below has a documentary about the NHS not being happy with being taken over by US companies.

The Take Over and Sell Off of the NHS–By Companies from the United States, United Healthcare and Others - A Documentary

So again while you face higher deductibles and struggle to meet those high out of pocket levels before your insurance kicks in, this is what’s going on with the other side of their business, the stock and profit making happens here.  BD



He uses a speech synthesizer so he can talk to us and talks about why he kept the original voice and now it’s his trademark.  He can’t speak without it.  He was one of the first people to be connected to the internet.  He has his debilitating disease and this is the only way he can function today.  Below is a project that Intel built for him and it has a great video there as well.

Stephen Hawking and Intel Develop The Intel IoT (Internet of Things) Connected Wheelchair–Video

He says the artificial intelligence can destroy the human race.  We couldn’t compete and he can also see what it has done today.  He’s not alone as others such as Elon Musk and Larry Ellison have said the same.  Ellison made his speech about the topic way backimage in February and it’s well worth the watch at the Q and A as remember these are folks that are hands on engineers and know data mechanics logic very well.

Larry Ellison, CEO Oracle, HCM Conference Keynote–”Be Careful About Virtual Relationships With Artificially Intelligent Pieces of Software That’s Smarter Than You“, It’s Really All About People”–Algo Duping and the Killer Algorithms Living Amongst Us…(Update) Video

Myself, yeah since I used to write code and have a God given logic mind anyway, yup I see it all over the place and I have yet to have one person disagree that people confuse virtual world values with the real world and let them escape out into the real world to do damage sometimes as they don’t work there, they should remain virtual. 

Virtual Worlds, Real World We Have A Problem And It’s A Big One With A Lot of Gray Areas Finding Where The Defining Lines Exist, Confusing Many With A Lot of Weird Values And Strange Perceptions…

What we end up with at times are “proof of concepts” that work in the virtual world but not in the real world and people shove and push those models at consumers as they spent a lot of money developing them and eventually everything comes to a halt.  This is not to say they are all bad either as there are good models but again we come back to where people can’t tell the difference and sometimes it’s really bad implementation as well.  In the title below I borrowed a phrase from Emanuel Derman, former Quant and author of a couple good books, “Models behaving badly” is one I liked as he explains.  So when I see a bad model that’s flawed, that’s what I say, “people don’t work that way”. 

“People Don’t Work That Way” A World of Broken Software Models That Don’t Align To the Human Side,Too Much Push At Times With Only A Proof of Concept That Fails in the Real World..

So Professor Hawking is making his stand in agreement with what others, self included have said here and in my opinion, it’s the confusion and as I said I see it all the time but I think in those modes, in other words is this virtual or is a real world value.  Start asking yourself that question sometimes.  Also I have a page that goes into that topic and a few others with folks smarter than me that tell you how you get fooled with math and other virtual values.  The math is a big one and you see it all the time and we have been so trained to run around like magpies repeating stats to each other so we feel important, and that’s what humans are designed to do all the time, but think about it and observe.  There’s nothing wrong with repeating significant stats either but with some it’s just a habit and some end up sounding like stat magpies, watch it on Twitter and you see it there. 

Time to listen up and think about how deep you want to go with virtual reality.  Sure if you are going to play a game and all the lines are defined, you know what you are doing but as this enters into the business world without some kind of real awareness of where it’s allowed to play and where not, watch out.  BD 

Prof Stephen Hawking, one of Britain's pre-eminent scientists, has said that efforts to create thinking machines pose a threat to our very existence.

He told the BBC:"The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race."

His warning came in response to a question about a revamp of the technology he uses to communicate, which involves a basic form of AI.

But others are less gloomy about AI's prospects.

Prof Hawking says the primitive forms of artificial intelligence developed so far have already proved very useful, but he fears the consequences of creating something that can match or surpass humans.

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