It's that most wonderful time of the year again. With a little more time on my hands, snow on the ground and a roaring blaze in the hearth (I live in Los Angeles, but I am optimistic such events transpire somewhere in our great nation), I browse the virtual aisles of Apple's app store, certain I will stumble upon these iPad goodies before the Big Day:
This handy app is a spinoff from America's most beloved car service. It provides needed relief to the hardworking executives of Mosaic of Life Care in St. Joseph, Missouri. With a couple of taps on their tablets, they can summon one of the 6,000 or so patients their own for-profit collection agency has sued in recent years and assign them tasks for working off what they owe.
They can rake leaves, shovel snow out of driveways or even bring the execs lunch (another app, iMosaicExpenseSheet, is required for reimbursement; patients must provide their own iPad). Every hour of work shaves $3 off their debt; during surge pricing periods that rises to $3.02.
Particularly poignant has been the caroling-on-demand service. Nothing stirs the heart like listening to medical debtors sing "Joy to the World" at the front door of a hospital executive office as if their lives depend on it.
This app provides an instantaneous alert when Accretive Health finally releases its restated earnings. Disclaimer: The software developer warns there is a possibility a user's iPad could reach the end of its useful physical life prior to such an event occurring. Or possibly the user's own physical life. Or possibly even the lifespan of all flora and fauna on Earth (an estimated 2 billion to 3 billion years).
Gilead came under criticism when it priced its breakthrough hepatitis C drug Sovaldi at precisely $1,000 a pill. This handy app comes up with more randomly seeming prices for new drug releases, such as $984, $1213.27, or $3,786.24 (the mathematical possibilities are endless!). Purchase the separate app, iDonatetoaDrugPAC, to remove the upbeat yet intrusive advertising from the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest.
Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) recently asked the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to warn the millions of Americans who receive a tax subsidy to purchase their health insurance that they could lose out if the Supreme Court invalidates them due to vague wording in the Affordable Care Act.
This app, developed by McConnell's office, not only warns consumers of the pending decision, but keeps a running total of what they may owe back to the Internal Revenue Service. That sum is prominently displayed on the user's homepage and even on their screen saver. It's also accompanied by occasional videos of IRS agents seizing the property and bank accounts of tax deadbeats.
A statement from McConnell praised iKillPremiumSubsidies as the "ultimate representation of the unintrusive government desired by our citizens." He added that it would no doubt lead to "wiser healthcare decisions by a better-informed populace."
Disclaimer: The developer warns that this app may not be removed from one's iPad even if the Supreme Court rules to keep the subsidies intact. Because you never know.
You can use this app to stream the second in the series of NPR journalist Sarah Koenig's wildly popular podcast "Serial." This time around, she tries to trace all the hidden charges in Ira Glass' great aunt's hospital bill. Through 12 one-hour episodes, Koenig is never able to definitively prove why tanta Glass was charged $48.11 for a single Ibuprofen, $128.31 for a bag of saline and $3,287 in facility fees. If only hospital billing expert Neisha had actually answered her phone! Of course, this app is sponsored by Mail Chimp (or is that chump?).
Very happy holidays to our readers, and may a happy and prosperous 2015 await you. - Ron (@FierceHealth)