Healthcare benefits are important and they are complex. Choosing health benefits is challenging and making an informed decision requires focused effort to understand how the benefits are changing or understand all the intricacies of your insurance service and how any of the changes will affect you. A daunting task to say the least.
In addition, it’s been a year since President Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, but many of us don’t know enough about the basic law let alone understand the fine print.
Speaking of the president, back in October I blogged about Obama visiting Oregon to stump for now Governor Kitzhaber and with his visit occurring in the middle of rush-hour traffic it triggered an accident on I-84 when eastbound traffic slowed to watch the president motorcade traveling west from the Portland Air National Guard Base. A motorcyclist and northeast Portland man (Peter Kendall Gunderson, age 59) may have failed to see traffic ahead of him was slowing down for the presidential motorcade and as a result of the injuries sustained in the accident died at the hospital.
A couple weeks ago, Steve Duin, of The Oregonian published a compelling follow up report about the incident and the story reads like an old fashion motorcycle club “beat-down” by a privately held, for-profit company — Lifewise.
The Lifewise mission is: “To provide peace of mind to our members about their health-care coverage.” But five months later, Mr. Gunderson’s wife, Ellen, is still held captive to all the gray areas of the cost of trauma services; the imprecise terms of insurance policies; and the ethical dilemmas that arise over the exact moment when a donor’s death is certain and his organs become available. I suspect like many of us, Mr. Gunderson never anticipated there would be so much uncertainty in the wake of a personal tragedy.
I suggest you read the story. Then take action to review your beneficiary designations, understand your medical rights and responsibilities and plan for the unthinkable. Mr. Gunderson organs probably saved three lives but, the process for his family of navigating the billing intricacies, months of lien notices, collection threats and double billings has certainly been painful.
Lifewise has a reputation for trying to get out of their responsibilities to pay for the cost of medical care, but it’s important to note that according to the BBB there have been 3 complaints closed in last 3 years with no significant government actions involving the LifeWise Health Plan of Oregon.
Photo courtesy of Lifewise.