What bothers me the most about the recent cyber-hack of the Anthem BlueCross system is not that a company that large and that profitable — one tasked with the care of the most personal data of millions of Americans — did not have adequate security in place to prevent such a thing from happening. That’s irritating and somewhat obnoxious and indicative of how little most giant corporations care about their members. But it’s not what really, really gets under my skin.
No, what bothers me is just a throwaway data point in most of the news stories. In the long list of what information was snatched by the hackers was a single item that should be the lead but isn’t. In addition to names, birthdays, Social Security numbers, addresses, phone numbers, &c; the hackers also obtained members’ salaries. How much money you make each year was one of the things Anthem BlueCross allowed to be stolen.
Now … The fact that some fools know much money I make is not really the point. My salary is not particularly exciting. I’m sure that there are millions of people that guard that data point ferociously. Nobody thinks anyone else should know what they make. Sure. I get it. If Joe and John have the same job and one is making more than the other, that looks bad. (If Joe and Jane have the same job and Joe is making more than Jane, that looks really bad.) There are all sorts of reasons people don’t want their salary known.
My issue, though, is with the very fact that Anthem BlueCross even has that data in the first place. Why aren’t we, as Americans, as the richest and most bountiful empire in the history of the world, just disgusted by the idea that how much money you make is directly proportional to the quality of your healthcare? That’s what bothers me.
I don’t think communism is a good idea and I’m far from a socialist. I do believe in capitalism and the invisible hand and I think America is just super. I really do. But letting people die because they can’t afford healthcare should be a national embarrassment. Letting entire families wallow in lifelong insurmountable debt because of a medical problem is unconscionable.
So, yeah, update your copy of Norton Anti-Virus or whatever the latest software is, and chat with your coworkers about hackers and how unsafe your data is, and watch Brian Williams do a report warning everyone about the horrors of cyber-security. But maybe take a second today to consider that somewhere someone is dying, someone is watching a mother or a son or a daughter or a husband or a wife die because they don’t have enough little green pieces of paper to pay for the right medicine.