Digging through layers of obfuscation

This is a story about the similarity between finding good information to identify vulnerable devices on the Internet and finding the info one needs to sign up for US health care.

Hint: in one of these domains it’s possible to find facts. In the other there is a shifting maze of marketing, laws, partisan media coverage, and bureaucracies who’s goal is to profit from making it impossible to find facts and make decisions on your own.

In my last job at Palo Alto Networks/Cortex Expanse (https://www.paloaltonetworks.com/cortex/cortex-xpanse), one of the things I did was dig through data that we generated by scanning the entire Internet regularly to identify devices and applications on the Internet so that we could inform our customers what potential attackers saw to allow them to fix it.

One thing I learned pretty quickly was that you had to get past marketing and sales info to find useful information. A first step was usually to search and exclude the companie’s web site (ususally mostly marketing material) from the results. Someitmes I went looking for technical manuals and installation guides, the “rubber meets the road” reality for making things work “Open up these firewall ports….”. Acquisuitions (company name changes) and product name changes (a favorite pass-time of marketing departments) where another source of confusion. I generally found that the older the info was (tech startup’s first engineer-written product description) was often the best source of infomation … the longer the marketing people had their hands on it, the fuzzier and more confusing things got. Once you see “The market leader in…” it’s time to move on. The acutal information content will approach zero.

I tell you that story to tell you this one.

Having just retired, I’m looking at health care, both ACA (ObamaCare) and Medicare for myself and may family. It turns out the same marketing obfuscation applies here, and I’ve not yet figured out how to filter out the mis-information.

But wait, there’s more. In this space we’re dealing with a political football (healtcare) where the laws and regulaitons change every year, where there is highly partisan coverage of the topic, and where mistakenly giving out your phone number can result in 30 robocalls a day for a week.

I’m not sure I will be able to find digestable spin-free sources of truth in the health care space. There are too many vested interests with a stake in keeping things confusing allowing them to posture to appear to be “the solution”. It’s not about healthcare. It’s about votes, maintaining bureaucracies, keeping things complicated so you need to pay people to help you and in general siphoning off as much money as possible at every step.

I pay a physician friend directly, out-of-pocket, no insurance for basic primary care. I get what I pay for, no more, no less, with none of the obfuscation or competing interests, no office manager or staff to deal with, no claims to file, no stupid one-size-fits-all policies that are actually a hazard to my health. And I get good informatoion, unfiltered.

#55 of #100DaysToOffload take 3.1, https://100daystooffload.com/