Tales from the In Box

The following is an actual email exchange from last spring between someone working at a private, for-profit insurance company and myself. I've blocked all personally identifiable information as a courtesy, even though I probably shouldn't have. I had completely forgotten about this incident until the Huffington Post's Jeffrey Young tweeted something which reminded me of it.

Hello Charles,

I work for an insurance organization in (city, state) and have been following your information as it relates to enrollment. I have been tracking competitor information manually as our state insurance department has not, up to this point, provided any enrollment information.

We are extremely interested in enrollment numbers for (competitor) and (competitor) in the state of (state). Here is a link to some more enrollment numbers for (competitor) (link), however, they are old because we currently got some information that they are now up to (number) total enrollment members. Please, if you do report these numbers, I wish to keep my identity confidential.

You seem to have a relationship with (competitor) as they have been giving you updated numbers. Do you think they would be willing to provide you with updated numbers which include breakout enrollment numbers for the different regions (there are 7 in the state of (state))? All I can do is ask:) Thank you for your help and feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions. Again, I wish my identity to remain confidential. Thank you!

-- (name)

Dear (name),

Thanks for writing.

I can't help but notice that you didn't happen to include your own enrollment data in your email, yet you're requesting information about one of your competitors.



Hello Charles,

We do not currently participate in the marketplace in our market areas of (state) and (state)  and therefore, do not have enrollment numbers on the exchange.

-- (name)

OK, so basically you don't have any additional information you can provide me with, but are asking me to provide you with information about one of your competitors which also isn't of any particular use to me.

Sorry, don't blame you for asking, but no can do. ;)


And here's the punchline:

Dear Charles,

If I am able to provide you with numbers, I will, but most likely would have to have you sign a non-disclosure agreement and ask that you don’t publish the numbers.

-- (name)

No, I wasn't seriously going to commit corporate espionage for this person even if they had been willing to give out their own data. I don't live or die by a particular company's enrollment information. I was just amazed at the level of chutzpah they put into their request.