At the Colorado Health Insurance Insider, we’ve decided to start an “open mic” so our readers can express their views in an open forum. They’ll be able to get feedback from other readers and engage in discussions about Colorado health insurance topics.
The opinions expressed in the “Open Mic” category do not reflect those of Insurance Shoppers, Inc. or the Colorado Health Insurance Insider. If you have an “open mic” topic you would like to submit, use the “contact us” tab at the top of the page to email your letter to me.
Without further ado, here is our first open mic submission…
The End of Healthcare As We Know It: An Open Letter
Dear Anthem Complaints Department:
On August 17, 2007, I was admitted to St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center in Pueblo, CO. for an outpatient MRI. Last week, I received a bill including not one, but two co-payments for the MRI. After looking into the matter, I discovered that my insurance company, Anthem Blue Cross-Blue Shield, is demanding two separate co-payments for this particular treatment because, Anthem claims, the MRI included two distinct procedures.
Frankly, I find this puzzling. Anthem’s request for two co-payments appears to be nothing more than a transparent attempt to squeeze additional sums of money from customers who are already paying way too much for medical insurance. From my perspective, on August 17, 2007, I was admitted to the St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center once (and only once!) for one (and only one!) MRI. Thus, I believe that I should be responsible for one (and only one!) co-payment. However, as anyone who has ever tried to communicate with an enormous, faceless medical insurance bureaucracy has learned, the thoughts and interests of individual patients are of little concern. What matters is money: the bottom line. And Anthem’s new “a la carte” co-pay policy ( i.e., without prior notification, Anthem can be charge its patients more than one co-payment for any particular hospital admission or procedure) is nothing more than a devilishly clever way to fatten Anthem’s bottom line.
Just imagine, if you will, the can of worms that Anthem’s new “a la carte” co-pay policy opens. When medical insurance companies claim the right to demand two co-payments for one MRI, then what’s to stop them from requiring multiple co-payments for every other procedure that takes place in a medical office? So, what’s next? Separate co-payments for blood pressure tests, ear exams, knee reflexes? The sky’s the limit!
Eureka! Insurance companies have struck gold…again!
Of course, the only downside to this lucrative new policy is the fact that the few remaining Americans who can still afford health insurance will no longer be able to use it. What middle class American will be able to risk seeing a doctor when their insurance company is at liberty to charge multiple co-payments on a whim. I can see it all now: In the not too distant future, Doctors will say to their patients, “Stick out your tongue and say, Aaaahh!” and patients will be forced to respond, “Geez, Doc, I wish I could, but I just can’t afford another co-payment.”
Oh, the humanity!
In conclusion, I humbly call upon the powers that be at Anthem Blue Cross-Blue Shield to rescind their “ala carte” co-pay policy. I hate to cut into Anthem’s expanding profit margins, but, at the rate we’re going, pretty soon not even Donald Trump will be able to afford an office visit.
Please do what you can to rectify this sorry state of affairs.
Tim McGettigan, PhD, is a Professor of Sociology at CSU-Pueblo