This is the time of year when you can change HMOs. My first was Blue Cross Blue Shield when I joined Chorus Equity Association in 1954. For each doctor visit, I paid the doctor then filled out a reimbursement form so time-consuming I sometimes didn’t complete it, which may have been what the sly bureaucrats intended. So I changed to HIP--Health Insurance Plan. For a monthly fee it took care of my whole family and the doctors made house calls.
Forty-one years later, 1995, HIP made no house calls, and although I had Medicare, I still paid HIP a monthly fee. The doctors were great (they always are) but when some bureaucrat tried to switch my wife’s surgeon two weeks before a scheduled operation, I threatened to sue. They backed down, but it was time to get out of HIP.
A friend from Canada working with a Green Card, said, “When I need to see a doctor, I go home for a couple of weeks.” I asked about Canadian bureaucratic nightmares American politicians yak about and got a pitying laugh. A PhD friend from Germany, hired by a Canadian university, fell gravely ill, was hospitalized, treated, recovered, and never charged a dime.
HMOs these days sell themselves hard, mailing out full color brochures of grinning families, like audiologists hawking $5,000 hearing aids. A sales rep came to our house and sold us Health First+. Doctors were fine (they always are). Ours primary care doc referred us to a physical therapist but after a set number of visits, the bureaucracy cut us off. Bye-bye Health First+. After studying a dozen HMOs, each with several plans, we chose United Health /Oxford. Same doctors, higher co-pays, and we watch the debate about “Obamacare” with bated breath.
In yesterday’s NY Times, there’s an article that New York State HMOs are seeking rate increases but won’t open their books. One is ours, United Health/Oxford. All claim that revealing price data would expose their secrets to other HMOs, and anyway, it’s too complicated for ordinary mortals to comprehend.
Does anyone believe such garbage? Obviously, if they revealed their pricing they’d also reveal that they are conscienceless gougers. Tea Party puppets and Republican robots have joined the fray and guess whose side they are on? They’ve even convinced some seniors who rely on “Obamacare” to be against it.
If the Tea Party wins, they’ll soon learn on which side their health care bread is buttered, and HMOs will be laughing all the way to the bank.