Fear of Flying, Ch 4: I Get Promoted

Sorry, I’ve been distracted by life and some odd occurrences since I began writing this. My daughter says she would be creeped out but I find it amusing…

I was here: I’d finally had my “Eureka” moment and The Company’s (TC‘s) new “Package Delivery” customer had received IPCs (Illustrated Parts Catalogs) for planes with passenger doors. Also amusing.

For the next two years I wrote IPCs. During that time I was extremely lucky to work with two of the best Job Set Up people at The Company (TC).

The first was a retired military guy and though I never expected to get along with anyone who’d been career military, I both liked and admired him. When I worked with his son after my promotion I felt the same about him. They were very rare human beings. They lived and worked by ethical codes. Which means, of course, that neither of them got very far in aerospace.

The second was a divorced housewife who was funny, excellent at her job and, like the military man before her, was a wonderful teacher of not just work-related things but of life lessons. I once asked her why she stayed at The Company (TC) instead of going to a place that paid good money. She said she’d done that once but was so bored by the slow pace at the bigger company that she’d come back.

I found that to be true for most of the capable people who worked at TC, the few sprinkled here and there among the throngs of idiots with pencils. Almost all had left once and come back. It’s something I also found to be true when I later worked at big companies (one military and one combo military and commercial aircraft). [The ‘slow pace’ at large aerospace corporations was not due to lax contracts. It was due to thievery, lies, greed and cronyism.] I’ll get to those jobs eventually.

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Fear of Flying, Ch 3: I Pretend I’m a Parts Lister

Since I couldn’t just sit there and drink coffee and chain smoke forever I finally opened one of the Job folders stacked high on my desk.

Inside was a work copy of an IPC and a “Job Sheet” attached to an EPL (Engineering Parts List, the Parts List generated with a blueprint). The ‘job’ involved overhead storage bins in the cabin area of a passenger jet. I was relieved. I wouldn’t be responsible for killing anyone. But would my ignorance be the cause of storage bins crashing down on passenger’s heads in mid-flight? I imagined casualties in nursing homes across the country drooling into complimentary Airline Barf Bags (ABBs).

If IPCs had ever been placed in context within The Big Picture of Aerospace Manuals  (TBPAM) during the training class I would not have been so worried. But I did worry because I thought an IPC was an entity unto itself. Years later, when I’d moved up and out to different companies and wrote complete Maintenance Manuals, I found that TC‘s IPCs were incorporated into full manuals by Tech Writing Depts within the Aerospace Companies. With that knowledge I’d have thought, “Relax. They’ll catch any errors at that level.”

A foolish thought but it would have helped at the time.

If the Coordinator hadn’t come by after a few days I might still be sitting there shuffling those papers around my desktop. Luckily for me, he was an affable good-natured guy from some Middle Eastern country who didn’t seem to take much of anything seriously. “OK, so now you will be revising that IPC to those updates, right? Easy job! Yes! That is easy job!”

Oh thank goodness. A clue!!!

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Fear of Flying, Ch 2: You Too Can Be A Parts Lister in The Exciting World of Aerospace!

For those not familiar with IPCs and Parts Lists and Aerospace Manuals, here is an answer to the question “What is the function of an illustrated parts catalogue (ipc) for aircraft?” from answers.yahoo.com:

“ipc is a cataloge..generally like u purchase a refrigerator or other substance of a company u are able to see the catalogue so tht u can see the product and read the features.. ipc is also like tht and its given by every manufacturer to each comapny for ordering the product because the product u have to order u know how it look and what is the use but for the company u need the part number which is given in the ipc”

Hmmm. Probably a Tech Writer…

For those familiar with the process of creating Aerospace IPCs or who just want to listen to me shovel the dirt, skip the dull stuff. There’s a funny story at the end.

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Fear of Flying, Ch 1: I Accidentally Get A Job In Aerospace

In the mid-1970s I found myself in Southern California. I worked at whatever job I could lie my way into using my collection of references from out-of-state out-of-business businesses. I had no particular preference about what it was I did for a paycheck. Factory work, fine. Office work, fine. Bank teller, fine. I was in my early 20s, I was a quick study and as long as I could pay for cigarettes and some of the other necessities of life all was fine with me.

There was a guy who used to drop by my apartment to visit. Where did I ever meet him? No idea. Maybe at the Club for Currently-Not-Drinking Drunks (CCNDD). He had a huge crush on me for some reason though I certainly did everything I possibly could to make him miserable. At the time I was working across the street from LACMA and it was quite a ride to get there. Crush Boy (CB) said, “Why don’t you get a job at the place down the street? They’re hiring.” I asked him what sort of work it was. He replied, “They write manuals for jets or airplanes or something. Aerospace. You don’t have to know anything to work there.

I laughed! “What do you mean, ‘You don’t have to know anything to work there???’ If they’re writing stuff for aerospace how could that be possible?” He insisted what he said was true. I said that since a person didn’t need to know anything to work there he should go get hired. If that happened, I’d follow along.

Now CB was not the smartest guy in the world. To be completely honest, he was as dumb as a box of rocks and about as interesting. But a few weeks later he returned and announced that The Company (TC) had hired him.

Incredible! Could it be possible? Maybe he didn’t understand what they were really doing there?

So I called TC.

CB was right. I didn’t need to know anything. I set up an appointment for an interview.

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Fear of Flying: My Adventures as an Aerospace Tech Writer (Intro)

I preface this history of my *cough* “Aerospace Career” with Ripley’s old adage: “Believe It or Not!

fly meSince the past tends to repeat itself I expect to be ignored or ridiculed and written off as a crackpot with a history of drug and alcohol abuse and a present of manic-depression. Having been dragged through all that while I was working at trying to save taxpayers a few billion dollars, I have no qualms about being dragged through all that again.

Bring it on! I can always use a good laugh!

A few years back Frontline did two shows: “Flying Cheap” followed by “Flying Cheaper.” I’d been out of Aero for about 15+ years when the first show aired. I was not surprised at anything that had been “investigated” and found lacking. What did surprise me was that the documentaries were precariously balanced on a false assumption.

Though “Flying Cheaper” showed that outsourced aircraft maintenance meant that many mechanics using the Maintenance and Repair Manuals were incapable of reading English – or of reading much of anything at all…

Frontline assumed the people who had written the Manuals could read and write and that the Repair and Maintenance Manuals were correct and useful.

I dropped them a line and said I had nothing to lose anymore and would gladly tell them about my years working as a tech writer for commercial aerospace. Never heard back. So I tell this story here, for my benefit and because it will make my daughter happy.

If you find something to wonder about and worry about, good. If you find something to laugh about, even better.

Forwarned is forwarned: This long tale involves sex and drugs and alcohol, lies, greed, fraud, laughs, drama, insanity and plenty of whistleblowing. A sense of humor required!

Tucson Citizen Posts Medicare and United Health Care Statements

I see that while I was sleeping the past few days Medicare issued a statement about the United Healthcare / Health Net situation. A post on Tucson Citizen forced United Healthcare to issue a statement as well although I was told in December that they were not going to make the situation public.

For some odd reason, no-one commenting there seems to believe the statements. Perhaps it’s because the statements are unbelievable!

From the Tucson Citizen: Medicare Advantage: Enrollment fraud investigated in Tucson

And yes, I did add a comment there that goes a bit beyond what I posted here in December and includes a word or two about the relationship between Health Net, United Healthcare and OptumInsight (formerly Ingenix) which should interest anyone who still thinks their medical information is private.

My comment included here for the record and for searches:

January 7, 2012 5:21pm:

Ah, once again we see the “Business of Poverty” that Bill Moyers covered so well a few years back.

When I found out this happened to me on Dec 22 I was told by both HealthNet and United Healthcare that they were not going to make this situation public. I called local news stations, emailed a few newspapers and no-one would pick up the story. Since I felt the information was critical and time-sensitive I posted about it on wordpress:

Dec 23: Arizona Health Net Medicare HMO Customers Fraudulently Transferred to United Health’s AARP Medicare HMO as of 12.07.2011

Dec 27: Update on Arizona Health Net / United Health Care Fraudulent Transfer Applications

A short summery of some of what I say below can be found in those posts.

Some agent did this? Hardly likely. No mention that most of the ‘fraudulent applications’ used people’s old addresses. Or that to fill out such an application the “agent” would have to have known the Medicare start date for each individual. I don’t even know what mine is. I’d have to look at my Medicare card.

There is a long trail leading to this instance of Medicare slamming. United Healthcare was caught doing the same thing in Florida (another large elderly and disabled population) in 2007 and it was a major story then:

Florida Lawyer Brings Class Action Against UnitedHealthcare


And then there were the HealthNet disks stolen in 2009 while en route to somewhere during the transition period of United Healthcare’s buy out HealthNet North East.

Perhaps the disks finally showed up. At United Health Care.

And last October, 9 HealthNet servers went missing from the vendor IBM facility. HealthNet states that the thefts don’t affect clients in Arizona and so did not provide ID theft coverage.

And on and on and on.

There is no such thing as personal medical information anymore. If HealthNet didn’t get Arizonan’s info from the disks that went missing in 2009 or the servers that went missing in October 2011 they’d all still have everyone’s info available to them anyway since they all use Ingenix (a “Health Information Exchange”) which is owned by… United HealthCare (Ingenix changed it’s name to OptumInsight after the NY Attorney General sued them and United Healthcare in 2008 for using algorithms that defrauded both doctors and patients):


Please file a formal complaint with the AZ Department of Insurance:


While other states have brought suit against HealthNet, United Healthcare and Ingenix Arizona seems to just let it all go by. Where is the AZ Attorney General?

Slammed By United Healthcare AARP Medicare Advantage in AZ? What To Do

If you or someone you know is affected by the Health Net / United Healthcare AARP Medicare Advantage slamming situation:

1. Call Health Net: Toll-Free: 800-977-7522

Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m, 7 days a week (Oct 15 – Feb 14) and 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m, Monday – Friday (Feb 15 – Oct 14)

2. Call AARP Medicare Advantage: Toll-Free: 800-643-4845

3. Call Medicare and file a grievance against both HealthNet and United Healthcare: Toll-Free: 800-633-4227 (1-800-MEDICARE)

4. File a complaint with the Arizona Board of Insurance by phone and in writing:

Toll-Free: 800-325-2548
Phoenix: 602-364-2499
Hours: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

5. Contact your Arizona State Legislators and file a complaint against HealthNet and United Healthcare:

Arizona State Senate
Capitol Complex
1700 West Washington
Phoenix AZ 85007-2890
Info Desk: (602) 926-3559
Fax: (602) 926-3429
Toll Free: 1-800-352-8404

Arizona House of Representatives
Capitol Complex
1700 West Washington
Phoenix AZ 85007-2890
Info Desk: (602) 926-4221
Toll Free: 1-800-352-8404

Tucson Office
400 West Congress St.
Suite 201
Tucson AZ 85701
Senate Info Desk: (520) 398-6000
House Info Desk: (520) 398-6000
Fax: (520) 398-6028
Toll Free: 1-800-352-8404

6. Contact your US Congress Representatives and file a complaint against HealthNet and United Healthcare.

7. Contact your US Senators and file a complaint against HealthNet and United Healthcare:

Jon Kyl
Ph: 202-224-4521

John McCain
Ph: 202-224-2235
Call Locally: Local Office Locations

And then try really really really hard to imagine that heads will roll. Caution: Do not try this at home. Do not hold your breath.

Arizona Health Net Medicare HMO Customers Fraudulently Transferred to United Health’s AARP Medicare HMO as of 12.07.2011

If you live in Arizona and are enrolled in one of the Health Net HMO plans, keep a close eye on your mail! I received a letter from Health Net 3 days ago stating that I’d been disenrolled and that as of Jan 1, 2012 my medical services would no longer be covered by Health Net. Further down it said that if I thought I had not dis-enrolled that I should call them immediately.

Which I did since I had NEVER disenrolled. They’d received notice that I’d enrolled in United Health’s AARP Medicare Advantage plan so had canceled me. I insisted I’d never enrolled with AARP and spent the next 2 days on the phone. Is it just me? Oh no…… who knows how many in Arizona? Neither Health Net nor United Health will say and representatives from both companies told me they don’t plan on making this information public.

Have you received one of these letters from Health Net?

Health Net Letter 12-2011

Do you not bother to open your mail for weeks? Are you too busy at Christmas to look through your junk mail? Got the letter but have no idea what it all means? If any of the last three then you know why this is happening right at this time of year.

Don’t get caught unaware. For background information please follow the convoluted trail I’ve trudged since Dec 21, 2011:

In July 2009, United Health Care purchased Health Net of the Northeast.

Sometime in 2009 (March, May and November have all been stated by different agencies) a Health Net disk of unencrypted customer information was stolen while en route from California to Connecticut. Health Net didn’t report the missing disk until November 2009. I have not yet determined who that disk was going to: Health Net Northeast or United Health.

In January of 2010, the Connecticut State Attorney General filed against Health Net of the Northeast, Health Net of Connecticut, United Health Group and Oxford Health Plans for failure to report the lost disk.

In July of 2010 a settlement was reached and Connecticut collected damages. Additionally Health Net agreed to provide affected customers with 2 years of credit monitoring, $1 million of identity theft insurance and reimbursement for cost of security freezes. Health Net also agreed to a ‘corrective action plan’ to comply with HIPAA including among other provisions: Improved identity theft protection; system controls; management and oversight structures.

In 2011, nine Health Net servers of unencrypted information went missing from an IBM facility. Again Health Net did not notify anyone until at least 3 months later. Apparently HIPAA is not working or the puny fines companies are getting are worth whatever benefits they are reaping from unlawful practices.

Now in December 2011, Health Net customers in Arizona are being transferred fraudulently from Health Net to AARP Medicare Advantage without their knowledge or permission. It happened to me and Health Net would not give me any information on how many others were affected. I was told the problem will not be made public and investigation is still ongoing. A supervisor at Heath Net told me that it appears to be happening only in Arizona to those who had any sort of contact for any reason with Secure Horizons in the past 3 years. How the applications were filed depended on who I spoke with: Either by phone, by mail, or online. All are dated Decr 7, 2011 which was the last day of open enrollment.

How could contacting Secure Horizons in the past 3 years have anything to do with fraudulent transfers of Health Net customers to United Health Care’s AARP Medicare Advantage Program? Because Secure Horizons is also owned by… United Health Care. Would United Health really do such a thing? Since they’ve done it before, probably. They were dragged into court in 2007 for doing the same thing in Florida, another state with a large elderly population.

It seems clear to me that either:

1. The missing disk from 2009 is involved since the agreement of the sale of Health Net of the NorthEast to United Health that year allowed United Health, starting in 2012, to offer its Medicare HMO plans (which include AARP Medicare Advantage in Connecticut) to what were Health Net Northwest customers. And here we are in Arizona being switched from Health Net to United Health Care’s AARP Medicare Advantage plan without our knowledge or consent as of January 1, 2012.

2. The recently missing Health Net servers from the IBM facility do affect Arizona though Health Net says they don’t. In 2009 Health Net first said the lost disk would only affect certain customers and then 3-6 months later said it include more customers than first thought.

In any case Arizona customers have gotten the short end of the protection stick. At the very least, Health Net should extend the credit and identity theft protection for Arizona as well. The 2 years free credit monitoring and ID Theft Protection from the 2009 breach ended for me on December 21, 2011. Obviously, 2 years was inadequate. Are we now to pay for it ourselves?

Since Health Net would be liable to pay an additional $1/2 million in fines according to the settlement agreement reached in 2010 if the information on that lost disk was ever used for illegal purposes (eg: the misuse of personal information to file fraudulent application health care applications), I expect to see someone scapegoated for this.

I was told by another person from Health Net that this appears to have been the work of one sales person. I said I wanted the person’s name and other information because I plan on suing them. He said that he would give me that information after the investigation was over. I’m not going to hold my breath. In reality I doubt they can point to one person as the supervisor I last talked with told me the applications were filed online. A sales person would only be responsible if they’d personally signed people up for AARP. Did one salesperson submit hundreds (or more) fraudulent applications online? Did one salesperson process all of the fraudulent online applications? Neither scenario seems likely. Or were they submitted by phone or mail as others first told me?

Where did they get information including my Medicare coverage start date? I don’t even know that without looking at my Medicare card.

Those in Arizona who are too busy to look through their usual mail from Health Net, or who have no idea what the letter means, or can’t spend 12 hours on the phone trying to get it settled will be without medical coverage as of January 1, 2012.

Why are Health Net and United Health refusing to make this public? From past cases, this appears to be ‘business as usual.’


2007, Jul 25: Suit accuses United Healthcare of fraud, says the company enrolled a woman in a Medicare alternative she didn’t want

2009, Jul 20: UnitedHealthcare to Acquire Health Net’s Northeast Licenses and Rights to Renew Membership

2009, Jul 21: United To Acquire Northeast Health Net Assets

2009, Nov 19: 1.5 Million Medical Files At Risk In Health Net Data Breach

2010, Jan 21: Doctors fear privacy sold in HealthNet sale

2010, Feb 1: Conn. medical society sues to block United-Health Net deal

2010, Aug 16: United-Health Net deal survives legal challenge

2010, Jan 13: Health Net, Inc. Connecticut Security Breach Lawsuit Plaintiffs [Health Net and affiliates: Health Net Of The Northeast, Inc., Health Net Of Connecticut, Inc., United Health Group Inc., and Oxford Health Plans, LLC. See ‘Documents’ links at bottom for PDFs of court documents.]

2010, Jul 7: Health Net Settles Breach Suit, Pays $250,000 in Connecticut Case

2011, Mar 14: Health Net Questioned About Second Security Breach In Two Years

2011, Mar 14: Health Net Press Release: Health Net, Inc. Investigating Unaccounted-for Server Drives

2011, Mar 14: Missing Health Net drives contained members, employees, and provider information

2011, Mar 14: CT AG wants Health Net to do more for consumers affected by breach

2011, Mar 14: Yet another Health Net breach raises disturbing questions

2011, Mar 14: HealthNet and HIPAA Again… So, Does HIPAA Work?