President Obama has started saying "health insurance reform" instead of "health care reform." Smart move.
My post title is slightly inaccurate. A few people in the United States like health insurance companies.
Namely, people who are employed by them.
As for the rest of us, when's the last (or first) time you had a wonderful customer service experience interacting with a provider of health insurance? They seem to have replaced lawyers as the most maligned profession in America.
Yesterday I went into my doctor's office to get copies from the "chart," now electronic, of my last two physical exams.
As related in an earlier post, I've been fussing with Regence BlueCross of Oregon over their denial of my application to switch from one plan to another. Though I'm in excellent health for a 60 year old, or any age for that matter, a couple of minor pre-existing conditions are being used as an excuse for Regence's "No" to my request.
At first I was told the denial was because I'd been prescribed two medications for an enlarged prostate, and that showed I was at higher risk for surgery.
I wrote back to Regence, enclosing evidence that Avodart and Flomax, when taken together, are more effective than either alone. So logically that eliminated this reason for denial. However, I got a phone call from the individual underwriting head honcho. Now she talked about my "heart problem," the sum total of which consisted of a mildly elevated cholesterol reading in 2005.
She asked for the physical exam records, partly to check my blood pressure (which is normal, by the way) as that is a risk factor for heart disease. I sent the records off to her today, saying in a cover letter:
It’s difficult not to come to the conclusion that Regence is casting about for a reason to deny my application, rather than fairly assessing my health status. I hope this isn’t true, but that’s how it seems to me. Recently I made a change to our State Farm auto insurance and found that the agent’s assistant was dedicated to customer service. Meaning, I didn’t feel an adversarial insurer-insured relationship as I do with Regence.
What happened to "the customer is always right"?
With health insurance companies, providers and patients are made to feel that something is wrong with them if, god forbid, someone actually wants to use their insurance for some health care.
I was curious to see what the receptionist in my doctor's office thought about health insurance companies. I told her that opponents of health insurance/care reform keep saying, "We don't want the government to come between us and our doctor..."
Before I could continue with that thought, she replied with considerable passion:
"Health insurance companies already do that! They tell people what doctors they can see, what services they can and can't get, what health conditions are covered and which aren't. They interfere in patient care a lot."
She and I agreed that if someone has to come between a patient and his or her doctor, it'd be better to have government do it.
Insurance companies aren't accountable to anybody. Underwriting and coverage decisions often are made secretly without transparent publicly available criteria, as in my case. So it's no wonder that health insurance companies have few friends among both health care providers and consumers.
They do, however, fork out a lot of money for lobbyists.
Who are trying to convince Congress that a public option which would compete with insurance companies is bad, bad, bad -- even though polls show that a public option is favored by a clear majority of Americans.
Hopefully their scare tactics won't work -- which are being aided and abetted by the usual crew of right-wing talk show wackos, such as Portland, Oregon's own Lars Larson, who has never met a fact that he couldn't mangle in service of his arch-conservative world view.
Here's a great example: Lars complelely distorting Rep. Earl Blumenauer's proposal for Medicare to reimburse doctors if patients request a visit to discuss living wills, end of life care, and such.
It's amazing that Larson is able to bill himself as being on the side of "values voters." This interview shows that one of his core values is lying. He knows damn well that no government bureaucrat is going to demand that Medicare cut off care to an old person in order to save money.
But he spouts the lie anyway. Just as so many others are doing when it comes to denying the facts about health insurance reform.