Tag Archives: ” heath care

InCity Voices: UMass Medical Center – outrageous prices and the run-around

By Daniela Munoz Maines

My name is Daniela. I am writing this [letter] because I am very frustrated and I would like my story to be known to others. Specially others that might be in our same situation.

My husband and I live in Oxford. Masshealth has qualified us to be on Health Safety Net Partial. Health Safety Net is a program for low or moderate income people who do not have access to health insurance or cannot afford it. In the case of HSN Partial, this means we are responsible for a portion, or all the costs of medical services till we meet our deductible, which is set by Masshealth according to our income. It is not clear to us in which circumstances we have to pay 100% of the costs, or a portion. It is also not clear how much of a portion that would be. The Health Safety Net help line informs that the hospitals and/or community centers are the ones that determine that. However, I can tell you that in a recent visit to UMASS Medical Center Hahnemman campus, I could hardly find any information at all.

Furthermore, when I tried to find out the price for an ultrasound, it was quite a challenge. My doctor’s office did not have access to prices, the billing department did not have access either and financial counseling directed me to a one single person who could give me that information. As you see, it took me phone calls to 3 different departments till I got to the right place. But this didn’t end here. This person needed a CPT code in able to give me a price. So there was I again on the phone, calling my doctor’s office, then radiology, to find out the code. In both instances they told me they did not have access to the CPT codes. I did some research online and found out that CPT codes are only available for a fee. After doing online searches for hours, I came across a report which had the CPT code for the ultrasound I needed.

Finally I got the price………. sort of. This person was able to give me the price for the hospital fee but wasn’t able to give me the price for the additional interpretation of the results. In any case, the price she quoted me was $706, when at other health centers was around $200. I decided to have the ultrasound done at a different facility, for which I needed the order from my doctor’s office at Hahnemman. And here we go again…………………2 days and several phone calls to make this happen. It is clear to me that the hospital makes a concerted effort not to disclose their prices while at the same time trying to keep you from going somewhere else.

In addition, I received a bill for the appointment, 2 lab tests and a flu shot for $759. After further scrutiny of each charge, I found them to be, again, 3 to 5 times more than fair market value, based on information provided by http://healthcarebluebook.com/. I also checked with Quest labs for pricing, which, I was informed, had bought the hospitals labs. The hospital charged me $450 for a TSH test for which Quest labs charges $120.60. They’ve also charged me $154 for a Vitamin D 25 test. When I confronted the hospital billing department with their pricing, the response, via email, was:” Umass goes by the Federal Law guidelines”. Interestingly, in a conversation with a financial lead, he said it was the state which regulated the prices. When I asked what that regulation exactly was, no one could give me a response. So I searched myself, and I could only find regulation 114.3 at http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/laws-regs/hhs/regs.html#114_6_13. Specifically 114.3 CMR 20.00 lists a TSH test (CPT 84443) $17.98 and Vitamin D 25 (CPT 82306) $31.68. I sent an email to http://www.mass.gov/chia/ requesting additional information on any other regulations not posted in their website, but I don’t have an answer as of now.

I’ve also started a petition http://signon.org/sign/your-right-to-know-hospital?source=c.fwd&r_by=4767040 which, I am hoping will get more signatures in the near future.

So my point is: People on Health Safety Net, like us, are precisely the ones that should not be charged prices that are 3/5 times more than fair market value. But more importantly, these people have the right to know the prices before they accept them. There is no other business that can get away with not disclosing it’s fees prior to providing services…none. Why are hospitals different?

I do not know if all hospitals give you the round-around as UMASS does, but I do know that somebody should do something about this.

Scott Brown voted against President Obama’s health care plan 3 times! Then he insured his daughter under the very plan he voted against!

What a hypocrite! What an opportunist! Please, DO NOT vote for incumbent “US Senator” Scott Brown (see nude center fold pic below!). Let’s not lose important programs because Brown is pandering to Independent voters! This guy will do/say anything to get elected, even vote “no” THREE TIMES for a program his family takes advantage of!

 A vote for Brown’s opponent, Elizabeth Warren, is a vote for programs that help all Americans stay healthy and strong – even Scott Brown’s kids. (We are certain Brown could have insured his daughter without the govt footing the bill, but hey, that’s our US Senator – Scotty Brown-nose!)     – R. Tirella

From The Boston Globe:

By Glen Johnson THE BOSTON GLOBE

“U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, who won office vowing to be the 41st vote to block President Obama’s health care law and who has since voted three times to repeal it, acknowledged Monday that he takes advantage of it to keep his elder daughter on his congressional health insurance plan.

” ”Of course I do,” the Massachusetts Republican told the Globe.

“Brown is insuring his daughter Ayla, a professional singer who is 23 years old, under a widely popular provision of the law requiring that family plans cover children up to age 26.

“Brown said the extended use of his congressional coverage is not inconsistent with his criticism of the federal law, enacted over his objection after he won a special election in 2010, because the same coverage could be required by individual states.

“On the campaign trail this year, Brown has said he still wants to repeal the law, which he argues is inferior to the health care law enacted by Massachusetts in 2006.

” ”I’ve said right from the beginning, that if there are things that we like, we should take advantage of them and bring them back here to Massachusetts,” the senator said.

“As to whether the federal law should be repealed or rewritten, Brown replied: “I’ve already voted to repeal it. You know where I stand on this. This isn’t news.”

“His political opponent said that Brown is being hypocritical.

” ”Sen. Scott Brown has gone Washington,” said Alethea Harney, spokeswoman for Democrat Elizabeth Warren.

” “He says he likes being able to keep his daughter on the family health insurance plan. What he doesn’t say is that he voted to stop other parents from doing the same.” “

*********************

Brown’s daughter, according to the Globe article, is a “former “American Idol” contestant” who “has worked as a correspondent for the CBS “Early Show” and is a professional singer.”

The Globe states: “Brown’s younger daughter, Arianna, is 21 and graduating after just three years at Syracuse University. She, too, will be able to keep her coverage under the congressional plan through the Obama law.

” ”I’ve always said that I love covering my daughter until 26 years old,” Brown said in an interview … .

Pathetic.

Cindy Chapman is gone: a victim of our failing health care system

(editor’s note: This op/ed piece can be found in the current issue of InCity Times. Usually, I wait a few weeks or even a month to post some of the content from InCity Times on our website. But because I have gotten some calls by people who were so moved by the story – and a special request by an ICT reader to post this story on our website ASAP so other folks can read it – I am breaking my rule. Here’s hoping even MORE people read this moving/tragic story and work (in Cindy’s name) for UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE. – R.T.)

By Chris Horton

Cindy Chapman died Sunday morning at Umass Memorial Hospital in Worcester, MA, of complications due to cancer. She came here two years ago from New York City to find a new place and start a new life and now she is gone, victim of a failing safety net and a failing health care system. Ironically one of the attractions for her locating here was the reputation of our health care system. We know so little about her, why she was here and where she was coming from, what she left behind and why – yet we know everything about her too, because we know what she did and what she stood for, and we had the chance to see what she was made of when she was staring death in the face and making her final choices.

Cindy settled into Bancroft Towers, across from City Hall, with her cat Ugay. To people who work or live downtown she must have been a familiar sight, a perky little woman in her trademark beret or headscarf, walking Ugay around the Common on a leash. Continue reading Cindy Chapman is gone: a victim of our failing health care system

“Capitalism: A Love Story” opens today in Worcester!

An invitation from director Michael Moore

Friday, October 2, 2009

Friends,

For two months, we’ve sat and watched the rabid right achieve the unimaginable: Derail universal health care and send the Democrats in Congress running for cover. Many have asked, “How did this happen? How could a small minority of angry people control the public agenda? Where is the majority’s response? Why the silence?”

I don’t have the answers to all these questions. But I do know this: I’ve had enough. As far as I’m concerned, Tea Bag Nation ends today — at noon to be precise. For that’s when I set loose, on a thousand screens across this great land, a movie I’ve made that’s so relentless, so dangerous, so damning in its humor, that it will — I can only hope — do what no movie has done before: Take them down, take them all down, once and for all. Continue reading “Capitalism: A Love Story” opens today in Worcester!