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.




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



A distorting picture is being painted

No institution in the world does more every day to help the world than the Catholic Church.

I am not a pious Catholic spouting useless words — the above statement is factual, and my goal in writing is to remember the good of the church and Christian faith in general. Let’s not be so cynical.

In his book “Rediscovering Catholicism,” Matthew Kelly points out many of the great things done by the church. Here are just a few:

• It has a nonprofit system of 637 hospitals, treating one in five patients in the United States each day.

• In Chicago alone it feeds 2.2 million free meals annually to the hungry and needy (6,027 people daily).

• About 2.7 million children attend Catholic schools each day at a cost of $10 billion a year to parents and parishes; this saves the public school system $18 billion a year.


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The Catholic Church, like any organization, is made up of fallible humans. I cannot explain the denseness of leadership that doesn’t rapidly expose and deal with valid complaints against clergy. But, I have to say, this situation is hardly unique to the Catholic Church. Yet, it seems and feels that the media (especially the Star Tribune) enjoy highlighting clergy failures on the front page, while other Christian religions or organizations end up in the metro section or not at all.

I want this disease expunged from the church. But I also want even treatment. Over the past many years, it certainly has felt like bigotry from those who wish Catholicism and even Christianity would go away.

As Pope Francis said recently when asked to describe himself: I am a sinner.

Aren’t we all?

DAVE ROY, Plymouth

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I noted a recent article on the Muslim celebration Eid al-Adha, or “festival of sacrifice” (with a large photo of men at a worship service) and on the same page as yet another article on a priest being accused of perhaps more sexual misconduct. However, what I haven’t seen reported was anything on the wonderful “Rediscover: 2013 Catholic Celebration” held at the St. Paul RiverCentre. It drew more than 5,000 Catholics last Saturday from four dioceses in Minnesota.

Our church has always been a group of sinners and saints. Please feel free to report our news that way.


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I don’t think someone else gets to decide for an abuse victim how much it hurt or what to do about it (“We’re witnessing the tyranny of the accusers,” Readers Write, Oct. 15). Too often, forgiveness is not healing but repressing feelings. Signs can be what we do with food and alcohol, what the people closest to us say about us and how sensitive we are to their feelings, and how well we manage our emotions.

The day-after-day reporting of childhood sexual abuse is irritating for some. Imagine if it included all the other ways children are mistreated. No one would read the paper.

DIANE ADAIR, St. Louis Park