I appreciate Dr. Thomson's and Mr. George's essay (Jan. 29) explaining how Medicare Advantage Organizations contribute to the complexity and cost of medical bills, and for exposing their not-so-uncommon fraudulent practices. They went on to advise us to "consider the option to appeal" unfair medical practices and billings, and "to be patient" with the appeal process.
Easier said than done. Consider the elderly patients with declining cognitive faculties; the caregivers already stressed out by many urgent, daily demands; the families working overtime and still living paycheck to paycheck, while threatening collection companies knock at their door; even the college professors struggling with understanding their outrageous "surprise" medical bills. And we are expected to put up the fight against, and be patient with, the multibillion-dollar industrial-medical complex, packed with their MBAs and lawyers?
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The essay's authors went on to gently remind "Samaritan to be a vital partner in designing a better system." We also need to address how much the U.S. hospital system actually contributes to the waste and cost of our health care. If patients' interest is their first priority, providers and hospitals need to be our advocates, and not bedfellows with the health care insurance industry.
It is the multiplicity of insurance companies fighting for their own "market share" of members that creates unnecessary administrative burdens and the lack of transparency in our current health care. A single-payer system, with good regulations and vigilant public scrutiny, might just save all of us the headache and potential personal financial disaster.
Chinh Le, MD