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Thank you for the eye-opening article that describes Mark Christensen’s shocking denial of insurance coverage for life-saving treatment (“The treatment was important. He had insurance. The hospital… Billed him $155,493,” front page, October 28). His all-too-common experience is unique to the United States among developed countries. Only here the patient first suffers from a serious illness, and then from the threat of financial ruin.
What makes us different from other developed countries? They have a national healthcare program that covers everyone. Does that mean they are enduring poor quality care? No. The public reports high levels of satisfaction and public health outcomes are good. On top of that, they spend about half of what we do per person.
One line in the article is particularly striking: Alina says, “The complexity of the billing process has created a miscommunication between hospitals and health insurance companies.” This does not capture all the mistakes that have been made, but it does illustrate the wasteful and wasteful complexity that drives up the cost of our system, which relies on private insurance companies. Hospitals must hire an army to handle complex claims from multiple insurance companies, each with different requirements and negotiated different rates. Insurance companies also employ armies to process claims and are careful to identify claims that are likely to be denied on technicalities.
Consider how much staff time was wasted by Allina Hospital, which appeared to be sincerely defending Christensen to Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield. Also consider that Blue Cross wasted resources deciding that his claims should be dismissed, only to end up subverting itself to escape public disapproval and embarrassment.
Mark Friedman, Mankato
Saturday’s lead story, about a man who was billed over $150,000 by his insurance company for critical care treatment, felt like deja vu PTSD to us. A few months after one of us had surgery in early 2022, we opened a letter from our insurance company and saw a $40,000 benefit explanation in the “Patient Responsibility” section. . We have appropriate insurance through our employer, and the weeks leading up to the surgery involve tests and consultations with our medical team, who notify our insurance company of this medically necessary surgery. He assured me that he did. So we thought there might have been some sort of clerical error and called the insurance company to have them resolve the issue.
The agent who answered the phone was polite but assured me that the statement was correct. She explained that types of surgeries are covered, but only with prior authorization. We asked how we should know about that requirement. Well, normally the insurance company would take care of it, but they didn’t receive the paperwork, so we ended up getting a bill. She said this experience will help her know better to prevent it from happening next time. Have a nice day.
After weeks of stress and worry, we finally negotiated with our insurance company. The insurance company was Anthem, whose division was also the insurance company for the men mentioned in the article. Maybe that company has a particular problem, but what we’re concerned about is whether the health insurance industry as a whole is moving in that direction. We have the same questions as him. How often does a situation like this happen? What happens if you don’t have the time or energy to deal with this unexpected challenge? How many others are there?
Julie and Jeff Naylor, Minneapolis
DJ Tice’s excellent Oct. 29 column on Minnesota’s bid for high-level national office, “It’s been a big week in politics” (Opinion Exchange), features Cushman, the state’s first unsuccessful presidential candidate. Davis, served as U.S. senator from 1887 to 1900, missing the governorship from 1874 to 1876. After gaining national attention for his railroad strike and his denunciation of the nation’s “growing anarchy” on the Senate floor, Davis announced his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination in the spring of 1895. Although he gained some national support, he was overwhelmed by William McKinley’s popularity and protectionist tariffs, and withdrew his candidacy at the Minnesota Republican convention in March 1896.
The versatile Davis is also remembered as an expert on Shakespeare, served as a lawyer for railroad tycoon James J. It is also known that he spent many years there. He is an old seamstress who works at home.
To learn more about Davis and other Minnesota governors, check out the Ramsey County Historical Society’s podcast series “March of the Governors” at tinyurl.com/march-of-governors.
Ken Peterson, St. Paul
Emeritus Professor Stephen Shear’s Oct. 29 comments were deeply misleading (“Democrats are haunted by the ghosts of past wounded incumbents”). Even professors run the risk of being haunted by the specter of a deeply wounded analogy. Scheer compared Jimmy Carter’s situation in 1979 to Joe Biden’s situation in 2023, writing, among other things, that “Carter was facing high inflation” and “Biden was facing high inflation and the broader economy.” “I was facing real dissatisfaction,” he wrote. Using rounded numbers, the inflation rate in 1979 was 13%, an increase compared to the previous year. The inflation rate in 2023 is 4%, down from 8% in 2022. In the minds of voters, so-called pocketbook concerns take precedence. As 2024 approaches, if wages continue to rise, inflation continues to fall, and President Trump continues to increase his bizarre behavior, there is a good chance that Biden will win a second term and surpass Carter. .
Jim Bartos, Maple Grove
A letter to the editor, “Knocking out women won’t solve anything” (October 24), criticizes ancient religions for excluding women from the role of “priest”. Although not specified, these ancient religions are probably Judaism, Catholicism, and Islam. I can only speak from a Catholic perspective. The writer of the letter laments: “This month, Catholic women are pleading with their male leaders to at least allow them to become deacons…” No doubt she was referring to the Synod on Synodality that will be held in Rome in October. Lately, Pope Francis has been upending the ancient Catholic Church with innovative statements about homosexuality, the ordination of women, and divorced and remarried Catholics.
Pope John Paul II addressed the ordination of women (priests, deacons) during his papacy. He reiterated that the issue has been around for 2,000 years and said the priesthood, including deacons, will continue to be male-only. This is considered to be a new absolute teaching. In theology, the diaconate is equivalent to the priesthood, only with a lesser role.
This enduring example of teaching is based on Scripture and cannot be changed. Christ chose 12 people from among his followers to be his first apostles. As evidenced in the book of Acts, the apostles chose only men (including deacons) to imitate Christ and continue the service of the Christian faith. Paul, the 13th apostle, appointed Timothy and Titus (of the New Testament) as bishops, and Paul instructed them to appoint (only) suitable men.
The letter ends with, “Was this really the intention of the omniscient Creator?” The Biblical answer in the Catholic faith is “yes.”
Daniel Pryor, Delano, Minnesota