Letters to the editor for Thursday, June 29, 2017

Health care in U.S. riddled with problems

The June 18 commentary by Medicare’s regional administrator titled “Coordinating Medicare, other benefits” is a perfect example of just one of the problems with medicine in America.

In nearly 20 column inches of text, the administrator is unable to completely and certainly not clearly explain how one’s medical bills are paid by the incredible bureaucracy of American medicine. Knowing people’s brain circuitry overheats with all the “ifs,” “buts” and exceptions to the rules, he refers everyone to a 36-page “booklet” regarding who pays first. More like a small treatise, I’d say. Of course, given you will likely still have questions, if not a total meltdown, he provides an 800 number. But, you really do have to read the “booklet” to even begin to know what questions to ask.

In the U.S. those 65 and older often have more than just Medicare to cover their medical expenses and thus the “coordination of benefits” must ensue. While benefits sounds promising, actual delivery is often lacking and certainly confusing. The addition of preferred provider and facility networks, required preauthorizations for medically necessary procedures and medications, varying insurance formularies and quality assurance programs all contribute to 30 percent of every U.S. healthcare dollar disappearing into the smoke-filled bureaucracy of corporate medicine.

The administrative expense of traditional (government only) Medicare of 4 percent versus U.S. corporate’s 30 percent is yet another reason to support “Improved Medicare for All” as proposed by Physicians for a National Health Plan (see their website at PNHP.org).

Colleen C. Lyons, MD

Carson City


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