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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Tollison

Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield's Data Obfuscation: The 180GB Table of Contents

Updated: Oct 22, 2023


Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield's Data Obfuscation

As the healthcare industry navigates the complexities of costs and services, data transparency has become an increasingly important aspect. However, not all insurance companies have embraced this change with open arms. In this blog post, we will discuss how Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) made their table of contents, which is merely a list of files containing price transparency data, over 180GB uncompressed, and the techniques they employed to replicate the same data repeatedly, making it more difficult to crunch and process.


The 180GB Table of Contents: A Barrier to Data Accessibility


Under the new law requiring insurance payers to publicly post their negotiated rates with providers for each billing code, Anthem BCBS has gone to great lengths to create a table of contents that presents a significant challenge for data accessibility. Instead of offering a concise, easy-to-navigate list of files, the company has produced a massive 180GB uncompressed table of contents. This sheer volume of data is overwhelming for most users and requires powerful hardware to process and analyze. By employing this tactic, Anthem BCBS has effectively created a barrier to entry for consumers and other stakeholders who lack the resources to access and understand the information contained within.


Replicating Data to Obfuscate Information


Anthem BCBS's approach to data obfuscation extends beyond the size of its table of contents. The company has also employed techniques to replicate the same data over and over, further complicating the process of extracting meaningful information. This tactic not only increases the overall volume of data but also creates confusion for users attempting to decipher the information. The replication of data can make it challenging to identify the relevant files and extract the desired information. Users must sift through countless duplicates to find the correct data, a task that is both time-consuming and resource-intensive. This deliberate obfuscation serves as an additional barrier, discouraging users from accessing and utilizing the price transparency data.


Understanding the Implications


By creating an unwieldy table of contents and replicating data, Anthem BCBS has effectively limited the accessibility of its price transparency data, despite technically adhering to the new law. This approach raises concerns about the company's commitment to transparency and the potential impact on consumers and other stakeholders. As we've discussed in previous blog posts, data transparency is crucial for empowering consumers to make informed healthcare decisions, fostering competition, and promoting collaboration within the healthcare industry. When companies like Anthem BCBS employ tactics that hinder data accessibility, they undermine these goals and perpetuate existing disparities within the healthcare system. Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield's approach to data transparency, specifically their 180GB uncompressed table of contents and replication techniques, serves as a cautionary tale within the healthcare industry. As we continue to advocate for increased data transparency, it is vital to remain vigilant and hold companies accountable for their actions. By doing so, we can work towards a more transparent and equitable healthcare system that benefits consumers, health systems, and insurance companies alike.


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