Seniors: Good how-to books on insurance, Medicare
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#1 Jul 7, 2007
My wife,who is 64, at first stayed in bed, in pain, vomiting, with a fever for a few days at home and I fought back with normal asprines, juices and she just could not get out of bed. Finally, I realized by the 3rd day there was no improvement and she felt so bad she asked me to call her an ambulance and rush her to the hospitol because she felt she was dying. I decided to drive her to Tampa General Hospitol Emergency Room at noon. I was alarmed at the dirty, wretched looking emergency room at Tampa General, but I wasn't there to judge so I took my wife in and filled out the intake forms for her and gave the receptionist my wife's Blue Cross insurance card. The receptionist then told me to sit my wife in any available seat in the waiting room. The place was packed with patients like sardines, some waiting on gurneys, others waiting on the remaining chairs. Luckly I found the last chair and sat my wife down. My wife was in more pain sitting and I felt so sorry for her. I asked her to take my cell phone and whether its 2 minutes or 2 hrs from now to call me and I'll leave work and bring her home to rest right away. I asked her did she understand me? My wife nodded yes. I said I must go now to work, but you call me when you're done. Then I went to work. My shift ended at midnight and I still hadn't heard from my wife, so I thought maybe she called her daughter who lives in the neighborhood to take her home or got a taxi ride home. I dialed my wife's cell phone and it rang forever, then I heard my wife's voice in the weakest tone I can ever remember. I said,'Honey, where are you? who got you home? your daughter?' My wife said,'No. I am still in the same chair you brought me to.' I said,'what? You have not been moved by the medical staff from that chair for over 9 hours?' My wife said,' nobody has seen me.' I said,'what do you mean no one has seen you? Who took your temperture?' My wife says,'no one.'' What!?' I say.'Then who took your blood pressure?' My wife says,'no one yet. They have not come to help me yet. I just want to go back home it hurts so badly to be seated. Please get me. I have to lie down so badly.' My wife suffers from shyness so she is a statue at any place. I say,'okay honey. I swear to God I'll be there in 5 minutes.' Then I rushed to Tampa General Emergency Hospitol and it was just has she said. There she was practically all by hereself, so it wasn't like the staff did not see her. They were clueless looking people. I walked over to my wife and she was quietly weeping to herself. I bent over and said let's go honey. I am going to take you back to bed. And so I helped her out of the chair, she was in so much pain and delirious but not a single staff member came over to inquire. We left with as much dignity and without complaint as just like we entered, we needed to just leave this outrageously savage place. So that night my wife goes through another night of pain, vomiting, fever, and my wife is sure this is the end for her. She's terrified and so am I. I thought enough is enough. I got us dressed and took her to the airport and we flew on the first flight that next morning from Tampa to Boston. After a 4 hour flight we arrived in Boston, and I took her to the New England Medical Center Emergency Room right away. It was near noon again but this time the hospitol was immaculate in the emergency room and we were about the only ones in there. I told them my ordeal and within minutes, MINUTES, my wife was being seen by doctors and nurses and medical staff who placed her immediately in a private emergency bed and gave her numereous IV's. This time I stayed right by her bedside the whole time.
#2 Jul 7, 2007
Dear Mr. Friedman,
Your article defies logic. You appear to believe that we should follow the advice of Dr. Robert Gumbiner, who is advocating a nationalized health care system. By your own admission, his other claim to fame - the HMO - is a much hated institution, and with good reason! So tell me, why should we follow the advice of one of the people responsible for the complicated and inefficient health care system we currently have? That makes no sense.
Also, every single one of the problems he has outlined that exist with our current health care system can be solved through market forces. Mr. Friedman, let me ask you something. When you are ready to buy a new car, do you just walk into the local dealership and write a check for the list price, or do you first educate yourself about the prevailing market prices of cars you are interested in and which is the best quality car in your price range? Why not treat health insurance in the same way? There ought to be WWW-based clearinghouses where normal folks like you and me can go to in order to find information like: 1. what plans are available and what their deductibles and co-pays are, 2. what drugs are covered by each insurance plan available and how much the out-of-pocket cost is for each drug, 3. what each doctor in our area charges for a regular office visit, 4. what quality of service local hospitals offer in terms of mortality rates, success rates for different kinds of surgery, and the like, 5. what others are saying about local physicians and hospitals. The possibilities are endless.
The last thing I want is to have some government bureaucrat telling me what doctors and procedures I am allowed to have. Mr. Friedman, all you need do is look at the UK or Canada to see how their nationalized health care systems are decaying from the inside-out. Canadians routinely cross the border into the US to receive the care they cannot get in a timely fashion in their own country (where it is illegal for doctors to practice privately), and UK physicians are now opening their own private clinics because so many Britons are dissatisfied with the NHS. It is also interesting to note that native British doctors don't want to be part of the NHS because it is such a mess. As a consequence, the UK government imports doctors from other countries. In light of the recent terrorist activity on the part of foreign physicians working in the NHS, it would seem to me that importing doctors is a bad idea!
Incidentally, I waited to the end of my letter to tell you where I got these ideas regarding a market-oriented solution for health care reform. I wish I could claim credit, but I can't. They came from that right-winger that liberals love to hate - Newt Gingrich.
#3 Jul 7, 2007
Dr. Gumbiner's HMO was market-based, so he knows why it was no good. And wasn't it Gingrich who called for Medicare to "whither away on the vine?"
#4 Jul 7, 2007
Note please that Florida is a low tax state, while Mass is not. You get what you pay for.
#5 Jul 7, 2007
Thank you for taking the time to read my comment and respond. I am afraid you are mistaken. This is a common misquotation and oft repeated by critics of Gingrich.
The following very short commentary by a CNN contributor in 1996 explained the situation fully and gives the "wither on the vine" quote in full context:
Despite what you may think, I actually do generally like your articles, although as a 30-something conservative, I am probably not a typical reader of your column.
#7 Jul 10, 2007
There appears to be some confusion over the "much hated HMOs" we have today and the type of staff-model HMO that was FHP, Dr. Gumbiner's company. What are currently called "managed care" plans are simply insurance company vehicles, where insurers set reimbursement schedules for independent or group-practice fee-for-service doctors. The staff model HMO - which today is represented mostly by Kaiser Permanente - is true managed care. Doctors work on a salary and make the decisions on what kind of care patients receive. The advantage of the staff-model was (and is) that doctors, rather than insurance companies, were responsible for the cost and delivery of care and the most effective HMOs were not-for-profit. When insurance companies got into the act, creating Independent Practice Associations (IPAs) and other hybrid forms of health insurance, still referred to as HMOs, the focus turned to profit rather than care. It's a shame that the term created to describe a very efficient and effective method of delivering health care at a reasonable cost - the health maintenance organization - has been vilified based on the performance of insurance companies, not doctors.
#8 Jul 15, 2007
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