Facebook rescission?

A Canadian woman on long-term sick leave for depression says she
lost her benefits because her insurance agent found photos of her on Facebook in which she appeared to be having fun.

Nathalie Blanchard has been on leave from her job at IBM in Bromont, Quebec, for the last year.

Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported Saturday she was diagnosed with
major depression and was receiving monthly sick-leave benefits from
insurance giant Manulife.

…She said her insurance agent described several pictures Blanchard
posted on Facebook, including ones showing her having a good time at a
Chippendales bar show, at her birthday party and on a sun holiday.

The insurance company claims there is more to it than that.  Here is further information.


I interned at a Law firm a few years ago which represented insurance companies.

My only job was to try to find pictures of accident victims online to prove that their well being wasn't too badly affected by the accident (I searched everything from flickr, myspace, facebook, etc...finding a date of the picture was the hard part).

My friends were horrified by my job....I honestly don't know why.

@ thehova:

really? you don't understand their horror? are you kidding me? your whole job was to fuck people over with complete conjecture. i'm horrified by your job and i don't even know you. i'm not so much surprised by your job, as I am surprised that you think you have friends.

it's pimple-faced assholes such as yourself that make this issue of rescission such a salient one. frankly, the fact that a law firm would select an impressionable intern to commit this atrocity against an unknown neighbor is understood easily within the knowledge developed by the Milgram Obedience Experiments. In these experiments, strangers willingly committed harm to others because they were simply told to do so.

that's what you did. you committed harm against people. why did you commit harm? because you wanted an awesome letter of recommendation. they would have made you a guard at aushwitz.

i stand by exactly what i said.

were the photos taken mid-dunk? i understand your point about how they "deserve what you get." the nazis and other authoritarian types also developed highly stringent understanding of who deserved what and for what purposes. the fastest way to denigrate people is to make a determination of their fitness for inclusion into the group which holds power. the rich must weed out those who they don't want in their club. that's where people like you with no morals come into the picture. you're willing to act as gatekeepers for a socioeconomic club.

seriously, you're an asshole of the highest order. what's worse, is that you minimize the harm that you do to people so you can sleep at night.

i'm serious, i have a hard time believing you that you have friends.

Having either major depressive disorder or dysthymia doesn't mean that you never have any fun at all, it means that your usual mood is one that's depressed.

Why does this mean you can't go to work?

furthermore, i've worked in residential brain injury rehabilitation programs and have seen people with serious disabilities read, walk, and play cards... that doesn't mean that they aren't horribly disabled. i'm amazed. you're suggesting that merely holding a basketball or rake or some other object is worthy of complete loss of benefits. that smiling for a moment within a period of serious clinical depression is worthy of some sort of gotcha coup de grace?

you're sick in the head.

I think sam is trying to build online evidence for his insurance company to find that he does have a debilitating psychological disorder of some kind. And succeeding, too.

sam, Godwin's Law is one thing, but comparing someone doing web-surfing of publicy available photos to Nazism is like a whole different dimension of thing.

"hey sam, lay off man, he was just doing a little bit of web surfing of publicly available photos."

benign? bullshit! his intent was to assist the company from making contractually obligated payments based on sketchy "evidence" of virtually every claim received. it's not that thehova was probably keyed into the some salient detail that proved a need for further investigation. he probably did this as a standard operating procedure. every claimant is considered a potential defrauder of the company until they thehova and his authoritarian-minded friends say so.

goddard's law is stupid. it allows for debate of salient information do die because somebody doesn't like tone. nobody has refuted my points. nobody has addressed my thesis of the mentality of dickheads such as thehova who work for insurers and do horrible things to this facebook woman and rape victims and others who had their insurance policies rescinded.

you all are defending a practice that hurts people. you are defending behavior that hurts people. you are defending atrocious acts of unneighborly assault.

how dare you question my intelligence or reference goddard's law without addressing the fundamental unfairness of the initial post or thehova's unreal statement of disbelief in his friends' objections to his profession.

how pathetic.

hey russ, call me an asshole when the insurance company begins routinely rejecting claims related to your very real disability. call me an asshole when they start stationing private investigators at your place of work or in a van in front of your house to photograph you watering your flowers. call me an asshole when they make a payment and then withdraw that payment at a later date when you've been seen in myspace doing something that some frat boy deems is outside of the scope of your injury or illness.

there was a systematic drive to create uptight assholes throughout the 1930's to allow the nazi's the organizational talent to commit the holocaust. calling someone a nazi doesn't mean they'll kill, but it does mean that they're willing and able to hurt people based on mere instruction.

i don't need your admonitions to review my history lessons. nazism was about waaaaay more than just genocide. i'm sorry that you've spent so much time watching the history channel that you've lost focus on the degree to which authoritarian principles of conscience were interwoven into the very fabric of german life.

now, it's not entire governments that have the organizational specialities necessary to create the authoritarian bureaucracy... it's corporations.

it seems that avoiding work would lead to more depression, not less. don't we need to be productive to be happy?

the root causes of depression should have been discovered and treated. these are often related to diet and muscular tension.

@ Al Brown:

you are incorrect. diet and muscle tension have only tertiary involvement in clinical depression.

read the DSM-IV regarding mood disorders. the pop culture understanding of depression as extreme melancholy is woefully incomplete. extreme depression is most often characterized by anhedonia, which is a symptom that causes a person to be completely lethargic to the point of failing to seek out basic human pleasure (productivity being just one).

Russ makes some good points. A picture or two would only add evidence, not necessarily destroy or even damage a plaintiffs case.

I dunno. Having a good time at Chippendale's might me be seen as therapy.

@ thehova:

your blame game is evolving i see. remember in the beginning when you described the claimants as lying liars who lie? now i take issue with your point and you transfer blame to their lawyers and doctors.

the fact of the matter is that in overwhelming fashion, claimants deserve payment. fraud is overwhelmingly overshadowed by legitimate claims, yet insurers treat every claimant, and now apparently their lawyers and doctors, as criminals.

just as you believe that i cannot be reasoned with (as if a mere revelation of logic would erase my premise that you're a heartless prick), i continue to contend that you have no integrity and seek success at the expense of your humanity.

hitmen were sent: http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0710/30/acd.01.html

do a control+F for the word "Pitts."

THIS is what i'm talking about.

Those who pay premiums shouldn't be assumed to be anything, other than on time with their payment or not.

Claims made to an insurance company have to be treated with at least a minimal degree of skepticism; financial due diligence demands it, lest the insurer then open itself up to being defrauded... with the result that their rates have to go up or the company value goes down, which then opens the company up to a shareholders' lawsuit, which again ends up raising premiums. I think it's called "fiduciary responsibility."

In 20+ years in the working world, I have never, not once, known anyone whose legitimate claim was denied. (The one time I saw someone's claim denied, it was flagrantly bogus. And y'know, they didn't even cancel his policy.)

Sure, I'd like for my insurance to pay to remodel my bathroom - I could even get a letter from my neurologist - but if they bit at a request like that without some kind of a raised eyebrow, I'd drop them like a hot potato, because there's a reasonably good chance they won't be in business when my next claim comes along.

[Oh, and sam? It's called a "shift" key - there's one on either end of your keyboard. You might consider using one of them sometime.]

In a perfect world we would be able to choose insurance that did or didn't cover depression. Those that did would probably realize it is a niche that they shouldn't upset with nitpicking. Oh well, bye bye perfect world, hello "qualified plans."

Funny. In my country of the Netherlands, someone got an extra tax audit because he filed a minimal income but bragged about his Porsche online.

This is all priceless. I think I've pulled a muscle in my larynx from so much laughing (lucky the camera was turned off).

My sister was a worker's comp claim adjuster for several years. She didn't make fraud determinations just to be mean. Usually, someone reported the offender to the company. At that point, she would begin an investigation which would typically last a considerable amount of time. It would involve private investigators checking up on the person, looking for them doing things that their disability said they could not do. It might be as simple as catching a person who allegedly couldn't raise his arms above his shoulders doing some overhead work. It was never one, single incident but rather a collected series of events.

The bigger problem is that there are too many people who try to get on disability so they don't have to work any more. I personally know a guy who had some knee problems. He was trying for disability. It was interesting to note that the only time anyone ever saw him use a cane was during the period when he was being evaluated. Both before and after, he seemed to be able to walk just fine.

Sam, my guess is that you had a disability claim wrongly denied. That's terrible, but it does happen. I personally don't believe that is the norm. I am eligible for disability, but choose not to take it because I am perfectly capable of working. I can only imagine how hard it is for someone who cannot work, but cannot get disability.

Just a couple of observations:

1) In any type of forensic mental health evaluation (with forensic meaning legal), collateral information is generally as important, if not more important, than self-report.

2) Even prior records of treatment conducted in good faith by treatment providers are often not enough to confirm the presence of a mental health issue. This is because a treatment provider is trained to align themselves with their client, who is the client/patient, and "take their word for it." In contrast, the client in a forensic evaluation is the individual requesting the evaluation. For example, in criminal forensic evaluations, the client is the Court, and the evaluator is conducting the evaluation for the purpose of answering the question posed by the Court. Very often, treatment providers accept at face value what a client reports to them, with little follow-up; that is not their role. However, this does not mean the self-report was accurate, even if presented honestly. Many defendants report off-the-chart levels of mental health symptoms that are invalid, even when they are not seeking secondary gain - there are multiple reasons for this.

3) Even in the case of an evaluation, one needs to be aware that additional information can come to light that may alter previous findings, or provide evidence that circumstances have changed. For example, I have come across several disability evaluations based on reportedly low IQ (below 70, or in the range of mental retardation); as part of a later criminal forensic evaluation, information from a variety of sources may become available that demonstrates the individual has a significantly higher level of intellectual functioning than was previously assessed for the purposes of a disability claim. I am amazed, for example, that individuals applying for SSI aren't at least screened for the possibility of exaggerating deficits, when there are ample methods to do so. When this same individual presents for a criminal forensic evaluation, data will often show this exaggeration of deficits, which is reported to the Court.

4) With respect to the case at hand, just because a company initially agrees to the presence of a mental health issue, does not mean they are required to maintain that position should additional evidence become available. I highly doubt this decision is based solely on photographs depicting "smiling." However, the article mentions a "sun holiday." I'm not sure what that means exactly, but if an individual were observed to, say, take a trip to Hawaii for a week, one would be hard pressed to argue the individual met the criteria for a severe level of Major depressive Disorder. Of course, it would also depend on the criteria laid out by canadian law. In addition, it is possible the person initially met the diagnosis for severe MDD, but has recovered sufficiently so that benefits are no longer necessary (for example, improvement through therapy and medication). The initial decision was appropriate, as would be the decision to then remove the individual from disability once recovered.

Isn't it obvious? Sam was trying to rip off his insurance and got caught.

Brain damage induced aphasia was the claim I'm guessing, hence he pretends he can't tell the difference between "hitman" and "photographer" or between "Nazi" and "fraud investigator".

I've read several news articles and researched for additional details before coming to a conclusion.

I'm sorry to say this, but it sounds like to me that this woman is just lazy. Anyone who really had a depression [or other mental] problem would NOT be posting photos on facebook, much less continuing to post photos on facebook. This whole "I have a depression problem" is just one that ANYONE can fake.

Now as for the argument of how facebook profiles should have been locked and private... there is NO such thing as keeping things "safe" and locked on the net. ANYTHING that gets posted or sent [yes that includes EMAIL] through the net STAYS on the net. I've known this simple FACT for years.

As for the insurance company being "in the wrong" to snoop and discontinue her benefits... I'm sorry, but they have every right to know if someone is handing them a line a sh!t just to get free money out of the deal. There ARE people out there who REALLY do need and deserve to have health insurance, but don't get it because of individuals like this woman who make it bad for everyone else. I commend the insurance company for buckling down and I wish that other leeching individuals would get caught and cut off too.

Bottom line: it doesn't pay to be a thief, liar, lazy, money moocher. Let this be a lesson for anyone who thinks it's ok to suck on the system while others pay their hard earned money for it. IBM would be wise to not allow the woman to come back to the job. Instead, they should tell her to take a hike, as this story I'm sure will have some sort of bad reflection on the corporation. If this woman is capable of going to a beach weekly and capable of going to night clubs to see male dancers, then she's most certainly capable of working a normal job like a normal human being.

Don't feel sorry for con artists. They're good at sucking people dry of their money.

Sam is overstating things a bit, but he's still my hero.

Insurance companies look for every excuse possible NOT to make good on their obligations. I think it's their business model. It's true they have an obligation to seek out fraudulent claims, but it's in their interest to make claimants into frauds, and they do. Bonuses are handed down to executives for rescinding claims. These things have been documented.

And, of course, there are those here who think they can diagnose someone through syllogistic reasoning. It's the same hubris that always permeates this forum. Many MR contributors seem to believe that being smart in general somehow makes them authorities on everything from neuroscience to moral philosophy.

We're all entitled to weigh in on matters out of our depth, but maybe a little humility?

Case in point:

"Anyone who really had a depression [or other mental] problem would NOT be posting photos on facebook, much less continuing to post photos on facebook."

What a dreary world.

I suppose it would be much more difficult if one's dealing with a case of manic-depression.

I've worked in insurance most of my life and agree that we don't have the whole story here. I am sure about a couple of things, though.

The company's decision wasn't based solely on the picture, though it probably spurred additional investigation. The longer a claim goes on, the harder a company will look at it. If you were sending someone a check every month, after a while wouldn't you want stronger assurance that the condition you're paying for still exists?

Wevin - some insurance companies do try and get out of obligations, as do some lawyers, doctors, tycoons and taxpayers. But most I've worked for conscientiously balance claimants' obligations against those of investors, which means they can't go around giving away money they don't owe. If you have a 401k or IRA, you're probably one of those investors. What would you have them do?

Tyler - This is not a rescission. You don't rescind a claim, you rescind a policy and in effect say it was never valid, usually for fraud or a material error on the application ("oh, yeah, I forgot all about that heart attack"). They paid a claim in good faith under a valid policy and when evidence indicated the covered condition no longer existed, they closed the claim.

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