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#369460 - 12/20/0907:18 AMRe: What to do about healthcare? Can it be fixed?
My dad oft cites the old “believe nothing you hear (or read) and only half of what you see” saying.
I don't doubt that are facts contained within this article. The problem I have with this article is there is also the agenda of the writer and/or of the publisher. This news media source is owned by GE which, conveniently, has a healthcare business. Now, there is nothing wrong with owning a media outlet or a healthcare business, but personally, I'm not inclined to assign much credibility to anything (healthcare related or other) they publish or broadcast. I find that all broadcast (ABC, CBS, NBC) and cable news (CNN, FOX, MSNBC, etc.) is more entertainment than anything that resembles real news. Also, in my opinion, asking the reader to believe everything cited in this story would be akin to asking someone to believe Rush, Beck, Hannity, or O'Reilly when they tell you unequivocally that there is no way that any health insurer has intentions of ever denying a claim. I see it as propagated to tug at people's emotions, rally against a general entity perceived to be nothing but evil, and to sway the audiences' opinions.
It's my perception that the supposed injustice in this case is less an issue with the health insurer than it is with the medical provider and possible errors in their billing. I fail to understand why it is the new health insurer's (Blue Cross) duty to inform the medical provider that the patient has new insurance, especially if automaton at a health insurer desk has no knowledge that she was previously a patient at that clinic. “Fisher (Aldrich's sister) believes the source of the problem was that the oncology practice had been paid more for the same services under Aldrich's previous insurance policy and did not change its billings to reflect the terms of its contract with Blue Shield, Aldrich’s new carrier.” I don't know how medical billing works, but would believe that the medical practice would either 1) contact the insurer when the amount of the claim paid did not match what was previously paid 2) ensure the patient did not have new insurance at each consecutive visit (such is done at nearly all doctors I visit who accept insurance). This is why I keep going back to accountability in the medical field (by doctors, hospitals, providers). Otherwise, I'm a little perplexed that the patient didn't voluntarily notify the medical provider at a consecutive visit that her insurance carrier had changed. Especially so after she realized that her share of the medical bill unexplicably increased.
I do feel bad for this woman as I feel bad for anyone dealing with such life altering illness such as cancer or any chronic illness. It would be nice to enact measures to protect, at some level, people in such instances from complete financial ruin and the resulting effects (like the negative impact to the black magic credit score). However, again, this is a complicated issue that I profess not to know how assets are liquidated or allocated to creditors and how cause is assigned. This article doesn't get me any further to such an understanding. I also hope that the intent of this article is not a shot at the health insurers as it sounds like the root of the problem in this case lies primarily with lack of communication between the healthcare provider and patient. I'm not a health insurer cheerleader, I'm just weary of blurred journalism.
One other thing I can get my head around, and the article doesn't elaborate, is why this woman would change jobs leaving her open to (greater) economic uncertainty and possibly jeopardizing her ability to maintain healthcare coverage during such uncertain times with her health. I realize that she, or no one, should remain in a job in which they are unhappy, but sometimes the situation dictates it is what one must do, like it or not. However, I forgot, people are entitled to a good job just like they are entitled to health insurance. One wonders if she would have never been laid off if she hadn't switched jobs. The article also fails to mention if some of the protections offered under FMLA were enacted or if they couldn't fulfill her needs. It'd be interesting to know. Perhaps the government should look at reforming FMLA first.
Also, looking into the Senate bill, I can only find the word bankrupt once (on page 322) in 2,076 pages. The passage claims that “Half of all personal bankruptcies are caused in part by medical expenses. By significantly increasing health insurance coverage, the requirement, together with the other provisions of this Act, will improve financial security for families.” This woman had health insurance didn't she? She still found herself needing to declare bankruptcy. I don't understand how increasing health insurance coverage will stave off bankruptcy when, apparently, many of the bankrupt have health insurance. It didn't seem to help them. My guess is that it may provide a slight reduction in the numbers of folks needing to file, but I'd suspect that they majority of folks filing have had extremely, costly traumatic events or are managing chronic disease. I suspect that other spending factors, at least for those well educated middle class, might have more to do with it than is cited
One last thing is that the article mentions her needing to allocate 33% of her income to health insurance. One wonders what is an acceptable amount of one's income that should be allocated (I don't expect you to answer than)?
Kind Regards, Jay
Almost all of us long for peace and freedom; but very few of us have much enthusiasm for the thoughts, feelings, and actions that make for peace and freedom. - Aldous Huxley
Was the government to prescribe to us our medicine and diet, our bodies would be in such keeping as our souls are now. - Thomas Jefferson