Rural lifestyle comes at a cost

Editor:

There are many wonderful things about living a rural lifestyle, and I wouldn’t want to move to town, but there is a price to pay.

Some things just aren’t available, and you have to find ways to solve the lack of convenience problem. One of those things is the no nearby hospital. Most of the time, you can plan your doctor or lab visits, but if you have an emergency, it is a bit more difficult, and as I recently found out, it can be more costly.

We had an emergency in our family and had to drive to the nearest hospital which is several miles away. In the moment, people aren’t thinking about the details of their insurance policy. If you know you are insured, you just move on with the emergency. We were fortunate and able to have our problem solved with just a few hours invested.

Weeks later we received a bill from the hospital with several charges for lab work and some doctor’s fees. We called and were told that these were the fees that were denied by our insurance because they were “out-of-network.” I’ve since learned that this is common and there is not much that can be done other than pay it. It was a sizable amount and we’ll have to sacrifice to get it paid.

We thought that our enormous premiums and high deductible would have made a difference. The insurance company would not budge.

Surely there is a way to solve this issue. I’ve read that New York has put in place an independent dispute resolution structure to deal with these “surprise” bills, which is an arbitration process between the doctors and the insurance companies. They’ve had some success.

Arizona has a lot of people living far away from hospitals. People have no choice when there is an emergency, so they must use what is available even if their insurance can deny any or all charges. Wouldn’t it be a good idea for Arizona to institute something like an arbitration board? People can only stretch so far.

Jim Bates, Payson

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(2) comments

Phil Mason

To your underlying untenable problem, President Donald Trump signed an executive order last week requiring hospitals and insurance companies to tell patients exactly how much their medical care would cost before they get it. In addition, he is putting in place a rule that the information for non-emergency services be available since we know that the same service from one institution to another can be exponentially different to the potential detriment of the patient.

Phil Mason

I have experienced a lifetime where everything that creates a value to my life comes at a cost - actually the correct term is investment instead of cost. I have concluded that the more I invest in life's values, the greater the reward I receive.

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