Diabetes Medication Commercials Are Biased

A Typical American Family Watching Television

A Typical American Family Watching Television

I read books. But I also watch television, and plenty of it. To say that I actively monitor and follow 46 television shows during the usual Fall to Spring television season would be no hyperbole. Forty-six! Do you know how much of that can be classified as hour-long? Seventy percent!! I track shows broadcast on network TV, cable, pay channels, and specialty package cable! So when it comes to having a finger on the pulse of America and a hand in a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos, let’s just say I’m the freaking best. And being the best means navigating the entertainment world with a sharp eye, keen button-pushing reflexes, and the stamina of a Golden Glove winner. Seriously, try keeping up with even 10 shows a season and you’ll realize how much work it really takes.

Anyway, some of these shows I watch live, so I can’t perform the now-classic DVR Commercial Skip Maneuver™. It’s like I’m watching TV in 1999, and I get to experience television commercials the way the sponsors intended. Quiz me about Five Dollar Footlongs, Biz Stain Fighter, and soda swilling Ursus maritimus, and I’ll have your head spinning with my lightning-fast recall of advertising factoids. One thing I’ve gleaned from my incredibly obnoxious intake of television is that ads can come off a little biased against one group or another. Sometimes it’s a gender bias, like the AXE Body Spray ads where they depict hot women as complete nymphomaniacs who have somehow contracted Group Rapemind™ when they detect some layabout wearing AXE. On the flip side, commercials for almost every household cleaner, banking service, frozen meal, and color printer feature a shlubby guy ignorant about something and his attractive, smart, and confident wife comes in and teaches him a lesson and reminds him who really wears the pants. Just imagine an ad with ten dudes ripping off a woman’s clothes because she smells nice, or imagine a husband talking down to his dolt of a wife who didn’t know one doesn’t have to make appointments at Jiffy Lube. There would be rioting in the streets! Bias, and sometimes even extreme prejudice, can seep into the media messages.

Let’s not forget that famous 1997 vacuum cleaner spot where the one guy calls the other guy a faggot in front of his mother. By today’s standards, it’s hard to believe that ran for 6 months and won a CLIO.

Another thing I’ve noticed while giving in to my disturbing habit is that all diabetes medication commercials are extremely biased against people without diabetes. None of these ads talk about how the medication could affect individuals who have no need for it, which makes it feel like only certain people are targeted in these ads. Some spots talk about how you can get free blood sugar testers if you have diabetes and are on Medicare. What about the folks who don’t have diabetes, you say? Is there an avenue for them to get free testing equipment? You’d never hear about it in these commercials!

Of course, advertisers have certain demographics they want to reach. That’s why you normally won’t see Fruit By The Foot commercials during CSI: Miami and you won’t often see Cialis spots during reruns of iCarly. However, diabetes affects nearly 1 in 10 Americans, plus the 1 in 6 who are basically pre-diabetic, so I think everyone has a stake in folks getting all the facts. Something must be done against these biased commercials. You might say that if I don’t like the commercials, then I can turn the channel or not patronize the companies, but that sounds defeatist.

USA!The truth is racism in America isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it’s only growing and there is nothing we can do to stop it. But one thing we can do is get the word out to make everyone understand there is bias in our diabetes advertisements. I think we can agree all Americans deserve to be addressed in the spots, not just the ones with the illness. Once everyone is on the same page, we can begin to move beyond the dark age of diabetes medication commercials. So let’s all do our part make this country great again so I can get back to the newest episode of Burn Notice.

Oh, Life Insurance

If you want to get a quote on life insurance, you can call me up and we would run through some preliminary information gathering. Your health status directly affects your premiums, so I do my best to quote you according to your health. It’s easier to sell a healthy person a policy than to a broken down mess, plus there is less work involved. If you think you have someone healthy, you get excited to work with them and you start building excitement and momentum to actually starting an application with someone.  There is anticipation, and it builds as you get more information that just confirms that you might earn a commission without much effort. You get so psyched just knowing you’re heading to something great, but then, like with SPIDER-MAN 3, you spend time approaching a brick wall and after you slam into it, you walk away disappointed. Here’s an exchange I have a few times a week:

THEM: “I think I need at least $500,000 in coverage.”
Me: “I can help you out with that. I will ask you a few preliminary health questions and that will give us a good idea of where the price may be for that coverage. How would you say your health is? Pretty healthy? Not any problems?”
THEM: “Oh, very healthy. Doing great.”
Me: “That’s good to hear, then this shouldn’t be a problem. Okay then, may I ask your date of birth?”
THEM: “August 11, 1961.”
Me: “Okay. Do you use any tobacco products?”
THEM: “Oh, no.”
Me: “Okay, good. Now, in the last two years, have you been under treatment for blood pressure?”
THEM: “Yes. I’ve been taking a pill for the last six years.”
Me: “Oh, well, then you’re keeping it in check? That’s going okay.”
THEM: “Yes, absolutely.”
Me: “Alright, we’ll get to the history of that in the application. Now, have you had a parent or sibling be diagnosed or pass away from cancer or heart disease before age of 60?”
THEM: “No.”
Me: “Okay, good. Now…”
THEM: “Well, my dad died when he was 58.”
Me: “Oh, what happened?”
THEM: “Heart attack, very sudden.”
Me: “…. Oh. Okay. Well, next question: Are you taking prescription medication for any reason? And we said that you are for the blood pressure….”
THEM: “And I take a pill for my diabetes.”
Me: “OH.”
THEM: “It’s a little pill.”
Me: “So of course that contributes to your high blood pressure, right?”
THEM: “Right, and the doctor said I should quit smoking to help that.”
Me: (weakly) “…. And can I ask your height an weight?”
THEM: “I’m 5’2″ and 214 pounds.”

Jesus Fucking Christ.

I will concede that if they bother to go through the application process after I give them an enormous quote, which is still subject to underwriting requirements (medical question, lab work, doctor’s info, etc), and they are willing to pay the silly-high amount, I get a bigger payday. But these folks go through it only if they actually understand they are mortal and their death will be a burden on their family and they’re willing to pay for something that benefits their family but they will never see it themselves. The odds may not be in my favor at this point.

My real concern is to get people covered, but some folks don’t understand why they can’t get $100,000 of coverage for $10 a month when they have staggeringly poor health. That sort of thing gets especially trying.