The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on December 4, 1997 · Page 46
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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 46

West Palm Beach, Florida
Issue Date:
Thursday, December 4, 1997
Page 46
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Page 46 article text (OCR)

THE PALM BEACH POST THURSDAY. DECEMBER 4. 1997 9D Managed care's little problems can pile up BANKUNITED FLORIDA'S PREMIER BANK It 7 OR 12 MONTH CD 0 Jane Bryant Quinn Staying Mead APY MINIMUM BALANCE $1,000 One woman's journey through the managed-care system winds through phone calls, faxes and a lot of waiting. SUPREME MONEY MARKET ACCOUNT fo When you read about problems with managed care, they're always big ones, involving denial of costly treatment But if my mail is any guide, a million so-called "little things" are troubling you, too all of which challenge the vaunted efficiency of HMOs. It's hard to check up on the personal stories readers tell. So when my reporter, Kate O'Brien Ahlers, started grinding her teeth about her own plan, Aetna U.S. Healthcare, I asked her to document what she was going through. Here's her report (concealing individual identities): June 9. 1 decide to quit the medical group that I'd picked from U.S. Healthcare's list. Among other things, it lost my appointments, shuffled doctors on me and kept so few telephone lines that I had a hard time getting through. I send a letter, asking that my records be shipped to another office. Early August. I feel tired, ill and am losing some weight so I call my new doctor for a checkup. Oops. She has left, and no one told me. In her place, I choose Dr. C. Aug. 25. 1 hear from the medical practice I just quit. It welcomes me as a new patient. Grrrrr. I write back, saying I want out, not in. Early September. After receiving the new paperwork, I leave a voice mail for Dr. C, asking for a checkup. No one calls back. Oct. 6. 1 call Dr. C again. Linda the receptionist gives me an appointment. My medical records still haven't arrived. Are they being held for ransom? Should I call the FBI? Oct. 29. Thorough checkup with Dr. C. She even got my records! I'm sent for a blood test to a lab upstairs. Oops. The lab says it doesn't take U.S. Healthcare patients. I'm sent to the New York University Medical Center Blood Lab instead. There, the wait is two hours. I'm advised to come back. Oops. Dr. C forgot to mention that she was going on pregnancy leave. Linda will call. Nov. 20. No call yet. When I finally reach Linda, she says my test results are normal. But even in HMO-land, should I accept a diagnosis from the receptionist? I ask for the doctor replacing Dr. C. Linda says Dr. J will call. Nov. 24. Still no call. I leave Dr. J a message about the blood test and the fainting incident, which worries me. Nov. 25. Success again! I hear from Dr. J. He found that I'm slightly anemic and says he's sorry for what I've been through. I'm comforted. But the episode has taken four-and-a-half months. What if the blood test showed I were really sick? What if I couldn't have taken hours off work to pursue an answer? What if I needed help to get around? I tell my story to Dr. Arthur Leibowitz, chief medical officer for Aetna U.S. Healthcare. He calls my struggle a failure of the medical system, not of his company's "access to care." lie explains how U.S. Healthcare monitors its doctors for quality. I ask Dr. Leibowitz what he thinks I should have done. He says: (1) call your doctor (was he listening to how hard I tried?); (2) switch to yet another doctor (and delay my blood test even more?); (3) call U.S. Healthcare for help. Ironically, I had called that day about a billing problem. I was transferred four times, then told the computer system was down. "We want to offer the best possible service," Leibowitz said. Jane Bryant Quinn welcomes letters on money issues and problems but cannot offer individual financial advice. 1997, Washington Post Writers Croup. FAPY MINIMUM BALANCE $3,000 AVAILABLE AT THE FOLLOWING LOCATIONS: Boca Raton (561) 750-7710 . Boca Hamptons (561) 883-3113 West Delray Beach (561) 495-5020 . Boynton Beach (561) 369-4688 Nov. 6. 1 return to NYU. Now I learn that I'll have to pay for the test because I don't have a referral form. I call Linda. She tells me to call the Quest Diagnostic lab center for a facility near my home. She'll fax my referral there. P Nov. 10. Quest gives me an office that's miles away. I fax Dr. C asking if that's where I'm supposed to go. Nov. 11. No reply. I fax again. Calling is useless. The answering machine disconnects me. Nov. 12. Success! I get the actual Linda on the phone, who advises me to go back to the lab I visited first. Later that evening, I feel lightheaded and pass out. Nov. 14. The upstairs lab does the test after telling me that it has had "a lot of trouble with U.S. Healthcare not paying." The test costs about $20. On my way out, I stop at Dr. C's office. West Palm Beach (561) 689-7227 FDIC LtNOIN Annual Percentage Yield accurate as of 1 12897. Rates are subiect to change without notice and APYs assume that the interest remains on deposit for a fun yeat. Penofties apply tor early withdrawal on certificate of deposit, nates on Supreme Money Market occount are available for o Unwed time only. $1 5.00 closing tee win apply It account is closed within 6 months of opening. $ 1 ,000 minimum deposit to open this account. $10.00 monthly service charge win apply It minimum balance is not maintained. 3 checks permitted per cycle, with $9.00 charge per excess item. This account is tiered: $1.000-$4,999.99 APY 2.46; $5,000 APY 5.20. Offer may be modified or discontinued. APYnxtyChangealarTytimeorwtttoutprtoirTOt Itisoftet -anno t combiner! wrn ony QlNy offer IT'S PERFECTLY UNDERSTANDABLE TO LOSE YOURSELF IN YOUR CATERA. BUT HERE'S WHY IT'S IMPOSSIBLE TO GET LOST COMPLETELY. IgpStar: NOW AN AMAZING 1,000 VALUE. Using satellite technology, OnStar is the ultimate in traveling companions OnStar Center advisors can locate you, give you directions even '"1. m unlock your doors 24 hours a day. MV?8 And Catera is the only car V in its class to offer this extraordinary service. In fact, if you buy or lease a Catera before February 15, 1998, we'll give you the OnStar on-board system with a hands-free cellular phone an MSRP value of over $1,000 at no extra charge SAFETY SECURITY AND THE OCCASIONAL BOUQUET OF ROSES. I i OnStar is always looking out for you. In the event that your ' -, air bags deploy, emergency services will be contacted. But in addition to providing an unparalleled sense of well-being on the road, OnStar can help find a notary, book a tennis court, make dinner reservations or send anniversary flowers. OnStar's database has 3.2 million listings. And they're all yours at the 1 r .: touch of a button. ALL THE MORE REASON TO ZIG. You can add OnStar to Catera's already impressive roster of features. Features that shout "performance" and quietly murmur "luxury." Features that promise, and deliver, fun. You will notice one very attractive feature to your right. Our lease offer. An even better value with OnStar. $399 MONTH 36 MONTHS $ 399 FIRST MONTH'S PAYMENT 1.500 DOWN PAYMENT 450 REFUNDABLE SECURITY DEPOSIT 2,349 TOTAL DUE AT LEASE SIGNING Taxes, license, title fees and insurance extra. GMAC must approve lease. Example based on 1998 Catera: $34,250 MSRP. Payments may be higher in AL, CA, CT, HI, MA, NY, RJ.TX and VA. You must take retail delivery from dealer stock by 123197. This is a special GMAC program. See your participating dealer for details. One-year OnStar service agreement required and payment due at signing. Cellular air time not included. Requires cellular service to be available and operating for features to function properly. if THE CADDY THAT ZIGS. 1997 GM Corp All right rtifrvtd Ahvayi wear ufciy baits. vn with air bags

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