Two thoughts from the medical community; pleas from Catholics for positive coverage.
AFFORDABLE CARE ACT
Comparison-shopping requires transparency
As the implementation of Obamacare sputters forward, we are very concerned about the lack of true price (cost) visibility to consumers (patients) from hospitals, clinics, doctors and health care insurance products — on and off MNsure.
The passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2010 occurred with support from a coalition of lobbying interests, including the American Medical Association, pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, and public and teaching hospitals who treat the Medicaid population — all seeing advantage from expanding third-party payments. But it has so far turned out to be a generally unpopular and unnecessarily complex confabulation of rewards and punishments for patients and employers. No wonder the public has anxiety.
Some independent medical practices post their fees on their websites. Storefront clinics such as Target and MinuteClinic (at CVS) have price lists, but they advertise their contracts with Minnesota insurance companies rather than the true costs of services. Most Minnesota insurance companies will provide cost estimates on what they will allow for specific health care services depending on the enrollee’s insurance contract only if enrollees push to get this information.
How can Minnesota health care consumers shop and compare services and insurance products if prices are not true and visible?
Dr. LEE H. BEECHER, president, Minnesota Physician-Patient Alliance
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While I believe that mandated health insurance is a step in the right direction, I question the proposed preventive services. Most health plans must cover diet counseling for obese adults and those at a higher risk for chronic diseases. As a registered dietitian, I am skeptical of this notion. Current nutrition counseling practices fail to meet the health needs of our nation. If a patient presents with diabetes or hypertension, he or she is seen and educated by a dietitian — but only so the hospital can be reimbursed. Patients receive a 15-minute education and overly worded handout. For the majority of newly diagnosed Type 2 diabetics, this is the only form of education they receive. This leaves us with a slew of confused, chronically sick people who lack the knowledge and skills to manage their condition.
So what do I propose? We need to redistribute our dietitians. We need them in outpatient clinics and community settings where people can access them and where their insurance will cover it. Ultimately, it comes down to the fact that, as dietitians, instead of just saying we have educated, we need to actually educate.
JESSICA NORMAN, Maple Grove
McConnell, Reid have been making the effort
As we pass through these intensely partisan times, it’s hard to find heroes, but two we should recognize are Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. These two tireless legislators have put their political disagreements on hold and have worked very hard on behalf of the American people. We as a nation are fortunate to have public servants of this caliber at a time when so many politicians are putting their personal political agendas ahead of the needs of our country.
WARD LYNDALL, Minneapolis
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