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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Pulling an Anthem

In February, I wrote a defense of actuarial science as an excellent example of evidence-based practice in the context of Anthem's 39% price increase for individual insurance policy holders in California. There were calls of profiteering and that Anthem probably considered harvesting their policy holders' organs and selling them for profit as an alternative option to the price increase. As heroically as any blogger who writes in their pajamas, I defended Anthem and their actuaries as those who followed math and science to come up with their numbers and did not succumb to the pressure of quarterly earnings expectations. I called on others to come to terms with hard facts that the price increase is indicative of the increase in medical costs and the true health status of those who purchase Anthem's individual insurance.

Turns out that I was defending some actuaries who aren't that smart. Anthem's actuaries made math mistakes while calculating the 39% price increase. Now, I'm trying to figure out the right term for someone who fully intends to follow scientific guidelines and evidence-based practices but does it wrong. How about planted evidence-based? What about evidence-based with broken chain of custody?

What I do know, is that there is an opportunity for a new catch phrase that you don't have to be an actuary to understand. I would like to coin the phrase "Pulling an Anthem" (trade mark pending, all rights reserved).

Pulling an Anthem: verb, Publicly commit an egregrious mistake by misinterpreting the data in your environment

My friend invited me to Moby, the vegan rock star's BBQ. However, I dropped a plate of bacon on the grill and the smell filled the area in seconds. I really pulled an Anthem.

I had an interview with Cisco, the computer system company. Turns out that I had spent the night researching Sysco, the food distributor. I really pulled an Anthem.

I'm running with this idea. My last great patented idea was knitting patterns for cell phone cozies. One year after I knit the first cell phone cozy that anyone had ever seen, I saw patterns appearing everywhere. This time, I'm not going to pull an Anthem.

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