Warning: This post contains strong language. If you are offended by strong language, please leave this page now. Ditto if you believe it's rude to call people idiots - even when they act like complete idiots.
"She is a very rude and unkind doctor. I wouldn't recommend her to an enemy."
-Former patient of Dr. Allison Fall, MD.
Before we kick off today's article, let's hear from some very wise people on the topic of authority:
"In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual."
"Anyone who conducts an argument by appealing to authority is not using his intelligence; he is just using his memory."
Leonardo da Vinci
"Any acceptance of authority is the very denial of truth."
A couple of days ago I posted an article about "adrenal fatigue", which was inspired by my recent email exchange with a terribly irrational and deluded health writer by the name of James Fell.
Of all the emails I've since received regarding the article, only two were in disagreement. One of course, was from Fell himself, which I've reprinted below along with my reply:
True to form, Fell had absolutely nothing even remotely intelligent to offer. I suspect most of us will be great, great grandparents before this joker manages to string together an intelligent sentence, so lets leave him and move onto the second antagonist.
She hails from Colorado and her name is Allison Fall, M.D. (yeah, I know ... Fell, Fall ... cue eery music):
Like Fell, Fall is an authority-worshipping ignoramus who greatly overestimates her own popularity. Cop a load of this unsolicited email she sent me, and the subsequent exchange:
Yep, just what the world needs - yet another malevolent who can't think for herself, who instead defers to the "consensus" of a "well-respected" authority that in reality has no idea what it is talking about.
Like Fell, this malevolent nevertheless feels qualified to email others and chastise them for reporting the facts on a topic, even though she herself is utterly incapable of offering any intelligent commentary on said topic.
Just like Fell, this malevolent thinks it's OK to deride and belittle others without provocation, but then gets all indignant when the object of her ire returns fire!
And just like Fell, this malevolent lives in some sort of delusional la-la land where she earnestly thinks everyone admires her, when in reality she is widely despised.
But as you’re about to learn, Fall’s flaws go far beyond being a narcissistic, hypocritical, authority-worshipping unthinker who sends antagonistic emails to people who’ve commented on topics she knows nothing about. There's a far more sinister side to this woman, one that has seen her receive incredibly low ratings from the unfortunate patients who've been forced to deal with her.
"Hi, IME Here to Help the Insurance Companies Give it to You Good and Hard!"
Fall claims she has a 96% patient satisfaction rating. All I need to say to blow that claim out of the water is that she is an Independent Medical Examination (IME) doctor.
Any American who has been through the IME machine will know what an utter sham the "Independent" tag is.
IME doctors receive their money from health insurance companies. And it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that the more claims these profit-driven health insurance companies can avoid paying out, the more money they make.
Health insurance companies are more than happy to take your money in the form of premiums, but do all they can to deny payment of these claims. If they can't dodge payment, then they will rabidly fight to reduce the amount they pay out to you.
If this sounds like an overly cynical assessment of American health insurance companies, it's not. It’s a matter-of-fact description of their business model.
As former industry insiders told CNN, this business model revolves around “the three Ds: delay, deny and defend.” Insurance companies will delay handling your claim, deny you were hurt and defend their decision in drawn-out court battles.
With nowhere to go, insurance giants like Allstate bet you'll cave in and accept what they offer. It was right there in the training manuals CNN obtained from Allstate: vigorously enforce "smaller walk-away settlements."
Shannon Kmatz, a former claims adjuster for Allstate, told CNN she used to offer as little as $50 dollars in some cases. Poor people would take it, she said, fearing if they didn't, they'd get nothing at all.
Roxanne Martinez didn't take it. Her car was hit in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and the resultant medical bills and lost wages added up to $25,000. Allstate told her they’d pay $15,000 and not a cent more. She sued and a jury awarded her $167,000. But that verdict took three years.
Unfortunately, not everyone has the dogged drive of a Roxanne Martinez, and the insurance companies know it. So they build lucrative business enterprises with a core strategy of screwing customers with legitimate medical conditions, using denial, delay, legal action, intimidation and inane technicalities in order to avoid paying the money they owe.
In 2009, the American Association of Justice (AAJ) released a report naming the ten worst insurance companies in America based on claim denials, premium increases and refusal of insurance to those who needed it most. The report was tabled after examination of thousands of court documents, SEC & FBI records, state insurance investigations and complaints, news accounts, and the testimony and depositions of former insurance agents and adjusters.
You can freely obtain the full report here.
The top ten worst companies were:
1. Allstate (whose slogan claims “You’re In Good Hands With Allstate ®”)
3. AIG ("We know money". I bet they do.)
4. State Farm ("Like A Good Neighbor, State Farm Is There." Oh, please ...)
10. Liberty Mutual
According to president and CEO, Thomas J. Wilson II, Allstate’s mission is clear: “our obligation is to earn a return for our shareholders.”
According to the AAJ report, Allstate’s confrontational attitude towards its own policyholders was the brain child of consulting giant McKinsey & Co., who in the mid-1990s was tasked with developing a strategy to boost Allstate’s bottom line. McKinsey recommended Allstate focus on reducing the amount of money it paid in claims, whether or not they were valid.
Embracing these recommendations, "Allstate made a deliberate decision to start putting profits over policyholders. The company essentially uses a combination of lowball offers and hardball litigation. When policyholders file a claim, they are often offered an unjustifiably low payment for their injuries, generated by Allstate using secretive claim-evaluation software called Colossus. Those that accept the lowballed settlements are treated with 'good hands' but may be left with less money than they need to cover medical bills and lost wages."
And those who don't agree to be screwed over?
"Those that do not settle frequently get the 'boxing gloves': an aggressive litigation strategy that aims to deny the claim at any cost. Former Allstate employees call it the 'three Ds': deny, delay, and defend. One particular powerpoint slide McKinsey prepared for Allstate featured an alligator and the caption 'sit and wait' — emphasizing that delaying claims will increase the likelihood that the claimant gives up."
I won't repeat the word we frequently use here in Australia to describe people who behave like this, but it rhymes with "RUNTS" ...
According to Kmatz, this would make claims “so expensive and so time-consuming that lawyers would start refusing to help clients.”
"Former Allstate adjusters say they were rewarded for keeping claims payments low, even if they had to deceive their customers. Adjusters who tried to deny fire claims by blaming arson were rewarded with portable fridges, according to former Allstate adjuster Jo Ann Katzman. 'We were told to lie by our supervisors. It’s tough to look at people and know you’re lying.'"
Yeah? Well here's a revolutionary idea:
Don't fucking do it!
That's a major problem with the Homo sapiens species: The compliance and obedience of its members is so easily bought. Pay them enough, place them in an environment with other similarly motivated automatons, and their desire for money, security and acceptance will see to it that they will override their conscience and engage in the most disgraceful behaviour.
And doctors are no exception. While some are indeed caring and conscientious, others are more than happy to jump aboard the insurance industry's heinous gravy train.
Upon graduating from medical school, 98% of US doctors reportedly take the Hippocratic oath or some similar variant. When repeating these solemn-sounding oaths, these doctors swear to be upstanding, ethical, honest practitioners who place the welfare of their patients above all else.
I think it's fair to say that doctors who bow to their insurance company masters to the major detriment of their patients are hardly what Hippocrates had in mind when he drafted his famous oath. And I'm guessing flippantly dismissing patient's injuries, sending injured people back to work before they are sufficiently healed, falsely claiming their injury was pre-existing because they consulted a doctor about an unrelated complaint years earlier, and adopting an "every patient is guilty until proven guilty" approach to discerning compensation fraud (all traits that, as you'll see, have been ascribed to Dr. Fall by her patients) weren't in any of the famous Greek physician's drafts, either.
Sadly, medicine has changed a lot since the days of Hippocrates.
Especially American medicine.
Modern medicine is now owned and run by giant commercial interests: Drug companies, investment bankers, HMOs, insurance companies, and integrated 'superclinics' that combine doctors, pharmacies and diagnostic facilities under the one roof, under the guise of 'convenience', in a conveyer-belt strategy designed to capture as much of the patient's inhouse business as possible.
Under the Gods of profit and shareholder return, the best interests of the patient take a distinct back seat to making money.
So-called "free marketers" rush to defend this atrocious system by claiming it improves 'efficiency'. Free market advocates, by the way, are typically people who wank on about "minimal government interference in the marketplace" - but then lobby governments every chance they get in order to have regulations altered in their favour.
And when they do lobby for the removal of regulation, it's often to further reduce the legal protection available to the people they intend to screw.
At any rate, the efficiency argument is bullshit.
Despite spending more on health care than any other country in the world - $8,680 per person, per year – the US ranks 50th in terms of life expectancy. Japan, meanwhile, sits atop the longevity charts while spending only $3,578 per person annually on health care.
Not only does the United States spend more on health care per capita, it also spends more on health care as a percentage of its GDP (17.2%) than any other nation. In return for this world-beating expenditure, US citizens get a health care system whose efficiency trails behind that of Belarus, Libya, Peru, Serbia, and Venezuela. In a 2014 Bloomberg ranking of nations with the most efficient health care systems, the United States ranked 44th among the 51 countries included in the study. Only Algeria, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Bulgaria, Iran and Russia fared worse.
This folks, is the perverted profit-obsessed system that has allowed people like Dr. Allison Fall to flourish, despite being part of one of the most inefficient medical systems in the world.
Just how bad is Fall? Well, she's already given us an insight into how scientifically illiterate she is in the above email exchange. She can't comment on mild adrenal insufficiency, she can't explain just why I shouldn't have included the link to Dr Shames interview in my response to Fell ... all she can do is resort to the one of the most favoured tactics used by dimwits world wide: The Appeal to Authority.
Fall's complaint to me is essentially:
"How dare you attack the Endocrine Society? They are well-respected!"
I couldn't give a damn whether or not they attract respect from sheep-like dolts like Fall and Fell. The Endocrine Society made statements which both Dr Shames and I were easily able to refute by citing peer-reviewed research, and if Fall wishes to dispute this research she needs to come up with something a hell of a lot more substantial than pissy little Appeals to Authority. At the end of the day, even the most exalted 'authorities' are mere human beings: Two-legged, two-armed and two-eared people who eat, sleep, shit, fart and harbour numerous insecurities and imperfections, just like the rest of us (except me: I don't fart. No sir. Thanks to my healthy habits, I simply emit occasional pulses of pleasant, environmentally-friendly emissions that smell like Aqua di Gio and contain undetectable levels of methane).
Fall has already painted a most unflattering picture of herself; let's now let her patients do the talking.
One of Colorado's Most Hated Doctors?
According to Fall, 96% of her patients think she's just wonderful.
When I went online to see if any of the "Rate My Doctor"-type websites had ratings for Fall, I was able to find five.
Her patient approval ratings were as follows:
And then there was this interesting little forum thread:
Contrary to Fall's lavish self-praise, many of her patients clearly think she is a terrible, uncaring doctor whose priority is appeasing the insurance companies that furnish a substantial portion of her income.
Fall would have us believe that each and every one of these patients is simply a disgruntled fraudster, a highly convenient and self-serving rationalization. And one, of course, that cannot be proved nor refuted given the anonymous nature of the above ratings. However, given that the confrontational insurance giants are hardly going to support a doctor that refuses to go along with their profit-driven, anti-patient agenda and given the arrogant, reality-detached attitude evinced in her unsolicited email communications to me, I'd personally bet my money on the legitimacy of the disgruntled patients.
One thing I can say for sure is that Fell's only supporter is someone who exhibits the same narcissistic, self-aggrandizing, authority-revering and proudly ignorant mindset he does:
Dr. Allison Fall.
She really should stick to Tae Boe instructing. It might not be as profitable as being on the insurance company payroll, but I'm guessing the medical system would be a lot better off without her and her like-minded ilk.