Su Lum: Slumming | AspenTimes.com

Su Lum: Slumming

Su Lum
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

While the public is being whipped up with fabricated fears about the health care bill, some funny things are going on in the health insurance world, and it behooves us to pay attention.

In January, The Aspen Times switched (back) to Great West, the health insurance company for the county and quite popular in our area, but things aren’t as they were just a couple of years ago.

For one, all members of the Great West family of patients are now required to purchase their ongoing medications from the mail-order drug company, Express Scripts. I don’t know how many of you have had the pleasure of dealing with Express Scripts, but before you pick up the phone and dial their toll-free number, be sure to go to the bathroom, fill up your water bottle, lay in a supply of crackers and cheese and prepare to be on hold for the bulk of the day.

I can’t believe that it’s legal for a health insurance company to demand that we use the services of Express Scripts – surely the local pharmacies would have a good case for restraint of trade against Great West.

It might cost a little more to get prescriptions filled at Carl’s Pharmacy, but we should have the option to buy locally and conveniently rather than going through the hassle of dealing with Express Scripts. We’re not all on the same meds all of the time – doctors change prescriptions to newer, better or more appropriate ones, depending on our conditions and technology, but there we are with a three-month supply of useless pills, having to get Express Scripts to approve the new prescriptions and get them to us fast.

One major reason I voted for Barack Obama was his promise of health care reform, and I worry now that the end result will be so diluted (not unlike the Historic Task Force’s conclusions) as to be meaningless, due to propaganda making it sound tantamount to the death camps.

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Hey! The present health care situation is BAD, and it’s getting worse by the minute. Obama is trying to do what he promised he would do and it is distressing to see it being watered down to nothing.

Meanwhile, we are losing our providers because the insurance companies are paying so few cents on the dollar that it isn’t worth it to the doctors to participate in the health care plans. My friend Hilary recently went to Dr. Hahn for a pain procedure (they call it a “shot” but it’s a lot more than THAT, and can work miracles) for a pinched neck nerve, and Dr. Hahn disclosed that he was no longer part of the Great West network, meaning that she would have to pay for the service and then squeeze what she could out of Great West, as opposed to paying 20 percent for a covered event.

I have the greatest respect for Dr. Hahn and have had several procedures myself, but this is the way the wind is blowing. The insurance companies are paying less, the doctors are dropping out, and the patients are left blowing in the wind.

If you don’t think we need health care reform, and have never known of anyone caught in the System, you’re lucky. Bad things happen and suddenly you are faced with the realities. If I were to list my pre-existing conditions, I could start with my hammer toe, work my way up through the lungs, heart, thyroid, blood sugar levels and blood pressure levels, ending up with the diminishing brain cells, or – go from the top down – vice versa.

We brag about our longevity but don’t know what to do with us when we exceed our expected life spans and start falling apart.

It is astounding to me that the greatest foes of health care reform are those who are going to need it the most. What we have is NOT WORKING, and it is getting worse every day.

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