I picked up the telephone last night at home to find one of those electronic surveys on the line. Once I heard the introduction, I stuck with it all the way through just to see what it was about. I´ll describe it, and then people can respond if they know why it was done and whether it is what it says it is.
It started by saying that it was a survey for the state Department of Public Health. There were about two minutes worth of questions, all answerable by pushing a button. It seemed to be about health insurance, and whether I had insurance through my employer or through the new Connector Authority (set up under the new MA health insurance/access law). But then it asked a weird question: Did either of my parents smoke? If so, which, the male and/or the female? It also asked the usual question about my level of education and my age. And then it concluded by saying again that it was a survey for the state DPH.
Of course, I realize that all these surveys, supposedly anonymous, really are not likely to be. After all, they know your phone number, and from that they know your name and address. But that is not what had me wondering.
If it really was the DPH, why are they doing a survey about health insurance? The responsibility for that lies with the Connector Authority, a completely different state agency. And the Connector Authority is already collecting data on how many people in different categories have insurance through their employer or through the plans made available by the Connector. And why ask about smoking in my family history? And, finally, the way the survey announced it was being done for the DPH was just a little off-kilter: It just did not sound like a state agency. Finally, in all the articles about the state budget this year, I never read any coverage about a DPH appropriation for this kind of survey.
So, I wonder if this was really a survey for some company trying to sell insurance or some broker trying to broker insurance sales? As a result of these calls, they could easily segment respondents by age, address (and therefore likely income), family health history -- just what you would want if you were selling health insurance.
Am I too cynical? Maybe someone out there from the DPH will read this and comment. If you are doing the survey, what is it for? If you are not, perhaps you could notify some law enforcement officials that someone is appropriating your name for other purposes.