December 15, 1997|By Jane Bryant Quinn | Jane Bryant Quinn,Washington Post Writers Group
WHEN MY reporter, Kate O’Brien Ahlers, started cutting her teeth about her HMO, Aetna U.S. Healthcare, I asked her to certificate what she was activity through. Here’s her address (concealing alone identities):
June 9. I adjudge to abdicate the medical accumulation that I’d best from U.S. Healthcare’s list. Among added things, it absent my appointments, confused doctors on me and kept so few blast curve that I had a adamantine time accepting through. I accelerate a letter, allurement that my annal be alien to addition office.
Early August. I feel tired, ill and am accident some weight, so I alarm my new doctor for a checkup. Oops. She has larboard and no one told me. In her place, I acquire Dr. C.
Aug. 25. I apprehend from the medical convenance I aloof quit. It welcomes me as a new patient. Grrrrr. I address back, adage I appetite out, not in.
Early September. Afterwards accepting the new paperwork, I leave a articulation mail for Dr. C, allurement for a checkup. No one calls back.
Oct. 6. I alarm Dr. C again. Linda the agent gives me an appointment. My medical annal still haven’t arrived. Are they actuality captivated for ransom? Should I alarm the FBI?
Oct. 29. Thorough ysis with Dr. C. She alike got my records! I’m beatific for a claret ysis to a lab upstairs. Oops. The lab says it doesn’t booty U.S. Healthcare patients. I’m beatific to the New York University (NYU) Medical Centermost Claret Lab, instead. There, the adjournment is two hours. I’m brash to appear back.
Nov. 6. I acknowledgment to NYU. Now I apprentice that I’ll acquire to pay for the ysis because I don’t acquire a barometer form. I alarm Linda. She tells me to alarm the Quest Diagnostic lab center, for a ability a my home. She’ll fax my barometer there.
Nov. 10. Quest gives me an arrangement that’s afar away. I fax Dr. C allurement if that’s area I’m declared to go.
Nov. 11. No reply. I fax again. Calling is useless. The answering apparatus disconnects me.
Nov. 12. Success! I get the absolute Linda on the phone, who advises me to go aback to the lab I visited first. Later that evening, I feel bird-brained and canyon out.
Nov. 14. The admiral lab does the test, afterwards cogent me that it has had “a lot of agitation with U.S. Healthcare not paying.” The ysis costs about $20.
On my way out, I stop at Dr. C’s office. Oops. Dr. C forgot to acknowledgment that she was activity on abundance leave. Linda will call.
Nov. 20. No alarm yet. When I assuredly ability Linda, she says my ysis after-effects are normal. But alike in HMO-land, should I acquire a ysis 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 bulletin about the claret ysis and the amazement incident, which worries me.
Nov. 25. Success again! I apprehend from Dr. J. He begin that I’m hardly bloodless and says he’s apologetic for what I’ve been through.
I’m comforted. But the adventure has taken 4 1/2 months.
What if the claret ysis showed I were absolutely sick? What if I couldn’t acquire taken hours off assignment to accompany an answer?
What if I bare advice to get around?
I acquaint my adventure to Dr. Arthur Leibowitz, arch medical administrator for Aetna U.S. Healthcare.
He calls my attempt a abortion of the medical system, not of his company’s “access to care.”
He explains how U.S. Healthcare monitors its doctors for quality.
I ask Dr. Leibowitz what he thinks I should acquire done.
He says: (1) Alarm your doctor (was he alert to how adamantine I tried?); (2) Switch to yet addition doctor (and adjournment my claret ysis alike more?); (3) Alarm U.S. Healthcare for help.
Ironically, I had alleged that day about a announcement problem. I was transferred four times, again told the computer arrangement was down.
“We appetite to action the best accessible service,” Leibowitz said.
Pub Date: 12/15/97
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