On Wednesday I was called by a representative of Ruth's insurance company, UnitedHealthcare, to request lab results. Yes, her health insurance company wanted in. They wanted to look at the control of her diabetes with no context of our private discussions about her diabetes. Apparently, UnitedHealthcare is on a parallel track to reach some lab goals on paper for a woman who is 90 years old. Ruth and I have our own goals for her health. A nameless, woman wanted to send a written request for specific labs, she emphatically claimed that Ruth signed a paper authorizing permission for me to send the results. I told the anonymous representative of the mega-for-profit organization that it was unlikely that she was giving informed consent for them to get into the doctor-patient relationship, furthermore that if she had signed something, I would see that she revoked consent to send them anything. The person on the other end of the phone said, "You sound odd," and hung up.
I called Ruth and asked if she signed papers for me to send lab results to UnitedHealthcare and she said, "No."
Then Ruth and I reviewed the instructions which I had given her many times before after she let seemingly well-meaning people with no names into her home. Don't let anyone in your door without calling me or your step-son, and don't sign anything no matter how nice the person seems.
I said, "You are vulnerable old lady." "You think so?" she squealed. Then answered her own question giggling, "I guess I am!"
Within minutes of hanging up on Dr. "Odd", the anonymous representative of UnitedHealthcare called Ruth to invite herself for an apartment visit on Friday. Ruth initially said yes to the still nameless woman from UnitedHealthcare, but then remembered my instructions from five minutes earlier and called me back to get her phone number so she could cancel the reconnaissance mission. Ruth and I think that her health insurance company is crashing our doctor-patient relationship. I wonder what they can do to improve Ruth's health with just a number on paper and without knowing all the things I know about her.