All posts by pennygentieu

UHCAN’T Find a Doctor

An Open Letter to the Board Members and Partners of Ohio’s UHCAN (Universal Health Care Action Network):

All of Ohio can thank UHCAN (http://uhcanohio.org) for sabotaging our healthcare in the individual market. UHCAN is our watchdog, they get grants to advocate for us, and shame on them for not doing their job.

We have an opioid epidemic in this country and Ohio ranks first. Could Ohio’s 90% inaccurate health insurance provider networks have anything to do with it?

It was recently reported that 715,000 Ohioans gained coverage through the ACA expanded Medicaid, and that 215,000 of them are seeking treatment for opioid addiction. Wow. One third.

We can assume that a good percentage of the Marketplace consumers are also in need of treatment. But when they are faced with a brick wall finding a doctor, after they have signed up for a plan, they are unable to get treatment, so they continue to use, and some of them die.

One year ago, last July, I went to a lot of trouble, all on my own time, to call every PCP doctor listed on every plan sold in my city, Toledo, doctors listed by the insurers as accepting new patients. 308 doctors in total. I discovered that the plans being sold are grossly inadequate, and average of 80% inaccuracies, two in fact had 90% inaccuracies! I made complaints to the insurers, to my elected representatives, to UHCAN, to the Ohio Department of Insurance.

It was a story big enough for the New York Times to report, on December 3, 2016.

Kathleen Gmeiner, a lawyer at UHCAN, was all set to send my complaints to an important contact she had at CMS. Even though she was aware of my complaint for several months, she waited the entire Fall, and then, ready to send the info in December, she was told by the director, Steve Wagner not to bother after all.

She didn’t send it, she tells me now in an email, because:

Once Donald Trump took office it became clear that the new administration was giving states a lot of flexibility and it would be unlikely anyone in the new CMS would aggressively require Ohio to take more steps around network adequacy.

Depression over the newly elected president?

Or was it depression because UHCAN’s grants were about to dry up?

UHCAN couldn’t even do that one thing that I presented to them on a silver platter.

No administration would allow insurance companies to have 90% provider network inaccuracies. To take our healthcare money and squander it away, especially when we have an opioid crisis in Ohio, is not anything the CMS would condone.

How presumptive of UHCAN to decide on their own that our nation’s overseers of medical spending and the administration of Medicaid and Medicare would not care that Americans are getting ripped off by inadequate and misleading, highly inaccurate provider networks. For UHCAN to withhold my information from the CMS is outrageous, unacceptable, and disgusting. And what a waste of grant money!

No wonder Ohio has the worst statistics for drug addiction. Our entire state, including UHCAN is sick. What drugs are they on at UHCAN, that makes them so heartless, that they can’t advocate for the people of Ohio, the sole reason for their existence?  90% inaccurate provider networks; people dying in the streets.

Yet another example of mis-used grant money.  Grants SHOULD be cut going to UHCAN Ohio. Because after all, UHCAN’T even do this one little thing to help Ohioans get healthcare after they buy health insurance!

UHCAN’T find a doctor on provider networks, and here we have an opioid epidemic!

You CAN, and you MUST, do better than this!

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Steve Wagner, director of UHCAN Ohio, on the UHCAN Ohio Facebook page, June 29, 2017, and my comment.

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UHCAN'T be serious, your mission is to achieve high quality, accessible, affordable health care for all Ohioans? Really?

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UHCAN's partners

Look who is UHCAN’s partner — CareSource, with their 90% inaccurate provider networks! Conflict of interest, to say the least.

Trump’s Dying in the Streets Congressional Act of Cruelty

Royal turkeys in action, setting us back 200 years

Promised a magnificent healthcare system!

Promised a fix!

We buy plans but can’t find doctors!

Ignoring inadequate provider networks with 90% inaccuracies!

Complicit with state insurance regulators!

Prices more than doubled in three years, and will rise for three more years!

Instability, uncertainty, sabotage, destroying our healthcare on purpose!

Medicaid insurers taking over the individual market, at rip-off rates!

Healthcare ripped away from 22 million people, 850,000 Ohioans!

Block grants to criminal states with turkey insurance departments!

Eliminating Medicaid expansion and punishing the poor!

Over 50, put out to pasture!

Discriminatory, prejudicial!

Unethical! Uncivilized! Cruel!

o

215,000 of Ohio’s 715,000 adults receiving Medicaid through the ACA’s Medicaid expansion are being treated for opioid addiction!

The Ohio Department of Insurance’s director Mary Taylor made a public announcement this month that both her young sons have suffered from opioid addiction. But during all those years that her sons suffered from opioid addiction, she had allowed insurance to be sold with 90% inaccuracies, denying crucial healthcare to Ohioans who bought individual health insurance plans, who could have needed treatment for opioid addiction.

The irony!

Ohio Senator Rob Portman lobbies for opioid addiction treatment, but ignores the crime of health insurance being sold with inadequate and 90% inaccurate provider networks, denying healthcare to those who buy it, including those who need opioid addiction treatment.

The hypocrisy!

Medicaid block grants going to states, where fools like Mary Taylor, who is running for governor, would have complete control of the money and complete control of Ohioans’ access to healthcare, is dumb, dumb, dumb!

o

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Dayton Daily News

Kasich initiated an expansion of Medicaid, made possible by Obamacare, and has been accepting federal funds to serve an additional 715,000 low-income Ohioans, including roughly 215,000 with drug abuse and addiction issues.

“Right now, Obamacare, including Medicaid, is not sustainable,” Taylor said. “So, the ball is in the court of Washington now. They have to figure out what they’re going to do going forward with regard to any provisions related to Obamacare.”

Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor opens up about her sons’ opioid addictions, Dayton Daily News

Just give us what you have. We promise not to pee in the pool.

Dear Penny

Thank you for taking the time to write me with your concerns regarding reforms to our nation’s health care system. It is good to hear from you.

As you know, members of the House of Representatives recently passed a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. This bill, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), replaces Obamacare with aand makes significant changes to the Medicaid program. Since the AHCA has passed in the House, it now comes to the Senate for debate.

I have already made clear that I do not support the House bill as it is currently constructed. My concerns that the AHCA does not do enough to protect Ohio’s Medicaid expansion population, especially those who are receiving treatment for heroin and prescription drug abuse, remain unchanged. We have an opioid epidemic in this country, and I will continue to work with my colleagues on solutions that will ensure those who are caught in the grips of this epidemic can continue to get the treatment they need.

This said, we must not lose sight of the fact that, for many Ohioans,Individuals and families continue to face higher health care costs and fewer choices for health care providers. Insurance companies,continue to pull their health plans from the individual market across the State. Small businesses continue to pay more money for insurance premiums that could have otherwise been used to hire more employees or provide better pay for those they already employ. Congress must provide solutions to these problems, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to do so.

Afterand decreasing choices under the Affordable Care Act, it is clear that the current course of our health care system is unsustainable. Ohio families who are struggling to pay for health care need relief soon. Our nation’sand while changing such a large and complicated system is no easy task, I believe that such change is necessary to ensure affordable access to high quality care for Ohioans and Americans across the country for years to come.

Sincerely,

Rob Portman
U.S. Senator

2018 Rate Review Observations

Anthem is the only insurer right now in 19 Ohio counties, and in 2018 they will be exiting the Ohio individual market, except for one teeny tiny county, Pike, for a non-exchange plan that probably has 5 members, just so they can keep their foot in the door and not be banned for five years in case they want to come back. Awe.

Isn’t a market-driven health care system great.

Anthem has about 18% of the individual market in Ohio, and they insure millions of Ohio corporate and state workers. 40,000 individuals are presently covered by Anthem, and 10,000 people may not be offered any individual plan next year as a result.

In Toledo, Anthem has the worst, smallest provider network, and it was 66% inaccurate. It is highly expensive, and went up quite a bit last year.

Anthem more than tripled their premiums in seven years, just like Medical Mutual did, who removed themselves just this year from insuring an estimated 100,000 covered lives with their PPO plans, thus eliminating the only national network plan sold to individuals in Ohio. Last year two insurers covered nearly 50% of the Ohio individual market, and now they are gone.

Also gone this year is United Healthcare and Aetna, so just like that, our four largest insurers of the individual market are gone from the individual market, and Ohio let them, even rewarding the insurers with our state employee insurance business. Ohio either has no business sense, or our state really doesn’t care whether or not 300,000 Ohioans can buy insurance in the individual market.

Four things that Ohio can do to mitigate this healthcare crisis:

1.

Ohio should do what New York is doing this year, and ban insurers who leave the exchange from any future participation in public programs such as Medicaid.

Governor Cuomo announces aggressive actions to protect access to quality affordable health care for all New Yorkers  New York State website
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2.

Ohio should propose a Medicaid buy-in for anyone in the state, like the plan that Nevada’s legislature just passed for it’s citizens. After all, our commercial insurers in the individual market (Anthem, Medical Mutual, United Healthcare, Aetna) have been replaced by Medicaid insurers (Buckeye Ambetter, CareSource, Molina), and since all of Ohio is covered for Medicaid, it makes sense that these insurers can also cover all of Ohio for the individual market, and with great ease.

Nevada’s legislature just passed a radical plan to let anybody sign up for Medicaid  VOX
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VOX

3.

Ohio should pass an emergency “any willing provider” law so that citizens can take their insurance dollars to any provider willing to accept them and the payment. At an average of 80% inaccuracies in our provider networks, have the worst that have been reported in the entire country! It’s only civilized that Ohio gives us an”any willing provider” law.

4.

Oscar Insurance Corporation of Ohio, a new insurer for Ohio this year, should cover all the counties that Anthem has left hanging.

But they won’t be covering even one of them. It comes to Ohio to set up shop with Cleveland Clinic in the five counties around Cleveland.

It’s a perfect example to show why market-driven health insurance does not jive with societal needs, and it never will.

Click the photo to visit Oscar’s News page

(Dream on, hoping for a private, for-profit insurance industry to voluntarily go into 19 counties for the business of a mere 10,000 people who won’t otherwise have insurance, when the company can get the same business by simply marketing to the east side of Cleveland. But for some reason, the for-profit, so called “free market” health insurance model persists. And it has nothing to do with what is best for our country.)

5.

Here’s something the federal government can do: Open up the D.C. Exchange to people without an option, as per U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill’s proposal.

McCaskill proposes expansion of DC exchange Columbia Daily Tribune, May 18, 2017
Check out this video clip on McCaskill’s Facebook page from June 9, where she asks the Senate for a hearing on the secret health insurance plan that the Republicans are going to impose on Americans without any discussion with Democrats or the public!

The D.C. Exchange sells insurance for everyone in the country, that is, everyone who is a member of Congress or their staff. I have researched the plans and found that they are really inexpensive compared to what is sold in Ohio. Moreover, it’s quality PPO insurance with national provider networks.

At one time, the ACA was going to have just one exchange for the entire country, like this exchange in D.C. But then the insurers got their mitts on the shaping of the ACA. They sliced it up into hundreds of different state and county plans. Four short years later, insurers are leaving, and hundreds of counties will have no insurance option. It seems logical to open up the D.C. exchange, for everyone. What would be wrong with doing that?

Click on the photo to visit the DC Health Link

On a final note, the chart below shows the three largest insurers in Ohio, from a report made to the state of Ohio by the actuarial company, Milliman, in 2011. I added to the original chart in light blue, to show the individual rate increases since 2010. (The dark blue along with the red and green show the 2010 rates.)

With the withdrawal of Anthem, none will be in the individual market next year! Our three biggest insurers in the individual market in 2010, gone!

It’s no wonder, because our regulators let their rates go up over 300% in 7 years, while the rates for the group plans went up only a total of 30%. Wow. You’d think that all the new members of these plans had leprosy. I hope they are cured, at least.

Divide, divide, divide. Divide and subtract some more! The huge free market health insurance system is so close to knocking off those 23 million people who just don’t fit in their money-making calculations.

Click on the chart for an analysis of seven-year rate hikes

See this page for directions on how to research Ohio insurance rate filings and submit comments.  http://ohiocitizenratereview.info/rate-reviews/how-to-make-comments/

Dear Bob Latta

Dear Representative Latta,

Thank you for your letter dated April 28 in reply to my letter dated March 7 in regard to healthcare reform. You state that “we need to empower states to deliver health care solutions that lower costs, increase quality, and improve coverage.” Here is why that will never work in Ohio:

The special interests of the health insurance industry are even more cozy with the state of Ohio than it seems they are with Congress, if that could even be possible. It is the lobbyists who control everything in Ohio, from educational luncheons with our legislators, to the wording of laws that are written to control them, to the actual running of the insurance department. It’s so crowded in Columbus with special interests, that there is no room left for the interests of the people who live in Ohio.

I have written to you about these issues several times in the past year, in fact I made an entire website based on these issues, OhioCitizenRateReview.Info.

In case you never read my website, this is what the state of Ohio has done with their empowerment that they’ve had in the past seven years:

1. Ohio lets every rate hike go through no matter what. Every rate hike the insurers want, the insurers get, regardless of how unrealistic it is for the economy of Ohioans.

2. Ohio does this in secret, without “Effective Rate Review”, a “check and balance” that was provided for in the ACA law. With several million dollar grants from the CMS, Ohio was supposed to have set up a transparent system for citizens to be informed and have open discussions about the annual rate hikes the insurers ask for every year. But they don’t. They keep everything as secret as they possibly can.

3. In secret, and without properly addressing my 2015 complaint, Ohio allowed Medical Mutual to eliminate their PPO insurance in the individual market, after granting Medical Mutual rate hikes of 373% over seven years. About 100,000 Ohioans were personally affected by this elimination of Medical Mutual’s PPO, which was the only national network insurance available in Ohio to individuals. This was probably the biggest market share, but Ohio let them do it, without any fanfare, without any discussion, and at the same time, while rewarding Medical Mutual with the state of Ohio’s employee insurance business. Ohio employees get Medical Mutual PPOs, but not the individuals of Ohio.

4. Complaints made to the Ohio department of insurance get buried. So that Ohioans who have problems with insurance companies in the state of Ohio have absolutely no voice and their problems have no resolution.

5. Our provider networks in Ohio are unacceptably inaccurate. This falls under the jurisdiction of Ohio laws as well as federal laws. A new state law was passed last year that was supposed to ensure their accuracy, but Ohio won’t enforce it. Last summer I called all the PCP doctors in the ACA networks in Toledo listed as accepting new patients, 308 doctors, and only 20% were actually accepting new patients. 10% in the “affordable” plans. I informed you, you did nothing. I informed my state representatives, they did nothing. The New York Times reported on it in December. Not a peep from you, but your colleague in Lima, Jim Jordan, spoke out in favor of the flawed directories, saying “It should surprise no one that the Ohio Department of Insurance’s physician directories are so flawed, considering how flawed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is.”

And now you want to give the state even more control so that they can further pervert our healthcare system for their own personal greedy purpose.

You were elected, Bob Latta, to represent us in Congress. It’s your responsibility to look out for us on a federal level. We didn’t elect you for you to skirt your responsibility and send it back to the states.

We need healthcare to be thought of as a public good, and not a Wall Street money machine. We have a democracy, not a monarchy. Money is not king. You were elected by the people, not appointed by lobbyists who crown you with their favors.

As I wrote in my previous letter, you should be addressing the problems of healthcare costs instead of letting them grow and grow.

It’s absolutely a lie for you to say in your letter that the AHCA will lower premiums by 10% and allow us to keep our doctors. Premiums for those over 50 will go up five times as much as it will cost others, and millions of people will not be able to keep their doctor because they will not be able to afford insurance anymore.

If you can’t give us what we need, or at least enforce the laws that can fix the problems with the ACA, then just leave it alone, so that we can vote you out of office, and elect a Congress who will give us what we need.

Sincerely,

Penny Gentieu

Noblesse Oblige

My Northwest Ohio federal and state senators and representatives, governor, with the lieutenant governor who is also the director of the insurance department, and the state Medicaid director.

We elected these people but King Moola rules.

Please can they throw us some crumbs.

Click on the crowns to read about my representatives. I’m deeply disappointed that they won’t fix the problems that are completely in their control to fix right now, like the highly inaccurate provider networks, and the transparency that the ACA provided for that they won’t abide by, and that they won’t pass an emergency “any willing provider” law so I can take my insurance dollars to my own doctor, and I’m shocked that when they say they are going to give us something better than the ACA, that they only think of the insurance industry, still putting profits over people. King Moola rules. Please, mini Moolas, please please throw us some crumbs!

If you are going to let yourself be crowned by the lobbyists, at least understand the concept of noblesse oblige. It’s like this: the masters must be responsible for those they tame.

Medicare for All NOW!

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Click on this image to see the Kaiser Foundation’s Interactive Map of Tax Credits under the Affordable Care Act vs. the American Health Care Act, sure to make you very sick when you see what our House of Representatives has been up to in the past two months.

My call to Rep. Latta and follow-up letter on March 7.  Please call too — 202-225-6405

Dear Representative Latta,

How is it right that this country further discriminates against certain groups of Americans when it comes to healthcare?

Why aren’t you addressing the real problem which is the amount of money we spend on healthcare and the rate in which it’s going up each year, at an unsustainable rate which has grown to be 18% of the GNP and is actually estimated to be 30% in 2040?

Why are pharmaceutical companies allowed to price-fix generic drugs to jack up prices by 8,000%?  Why are they granted orphan status which permits extremely high prices on mainstream popular drugs like Abilify, Crestor, and Humira, the best-selling medicine in the world?

What about all the hospital mergers, and the secret prices with no transparency, and the double-digit premium price hikes? What about the skinny provider networks with 80% inaccuracies? What about families plagued with medical bankruptcies?

Since everybody needs healthcare at one time or another, why don’t you treat it like a utility that we all need that is publicly regulated, or like the fire department that is paid-for through taxes?

Instead, the House of Representatives does nothing to address any of these problems. You come out with this extremely regressive, insulting, age-discriminating bandaid to the current Affordable Care Act and call it the American Health Care Act.

Under this law, is it fair that people in their fifties and sixties will be paying five times more than others?  Do you think we really have the money to pay that, when health insurance has already gone up for us 350% in the past ten years?

When the median family income in Lucas County is $41,777, how can you think it’s okay for health insurance to cost $25,000?  Or do you think that healthcare is something only for the rich? Of course the average family can’t afford it. So what do you do but take the subsidies that were income based, and you make them age based, across the board, to everyone regardless of their wealth, to continue this medical industry corporate welfare.

Don’t you think that the underlying costs that make health insurance so expensive should be put in check? Have you considered that the high administration costs, adding up to be at least 30% of our total healthcare costs, could be kept down to 5% if we didn’t have hundreds of insurance companies trying to manage our healthcare, instead of just one manager, such as Medicare?

Do you really think that in 2017, Americans do not deserve healthcare? All Americans deserve affordable healthcare, and it will be affordable when people are put first, before special interests. We demand Medicare for ALL.

Sincerely,

Penny Gentieu

“Yes Ms. Gentieu, you really do live in Russia.”

pg24-25After nearly nine months since I made a query with the Ohio Inspector General to look into certain issues at the Ohio Department of Insurance, I received an email response on March 8, posted below. Coming one day after the unveiling of the utterly regressive Republican answer to our healthcare problems, it’s like they are trying to tell me something.  

“Yes Ms. Gentieu, you really do live in Russia.”

But we live in America and we were promised a better, less expensive healthcare plan that wouldn’t leave people dying in the streets.

(Related: Letter to Rep. Latta)

JUNE 29, 2016
Dear Ohio Inspector General:
  1. The Ohio Department of Insurance is granting double-digit rate hikes without any public review, without lowering the hikes. They are basically working for the insurance companies at the expense of millions of Ohioans, including me, whose insurance went up 373% in 7 years, same company.
  2.  The Ohio Department of Insurance is not releasing public documents to me about consumer complaints.
  3. The Ohio Department of Insurance is not releasing rate review justifications for the public to participate in “effective rate review” — with the 5 million dollars in CMS grants meant for this purpose. Other states save their people millions — even a billion — using public rate review, but not Ohio.
  4. The Ohio Department of Insurance has no problem with health insurance companies advertising phony provider networks. There’s no fine or punishment for lying to the public or to the enrollees, so health insurance companies are allowed to rip us off blind!

None of this seems right; or good in the least for the citizens of Ohio, me included. Please investigate.

Ever since I’ve lived in Ohio, my Medical Mutual health insurance rates have gone up double-digits every year. I’ve had the same, or essentially the same health insurance plan with Medical Mutual. I’m a small business person, so I buy individual insurance. The year the plan went on the Marketplace, in 2014, my Medical Mutual premiums went up 224%! The price of my 2016 Medical Mutual insurance is now 373% more than my Medical Mutual insurance was in 2009! In just seven years it went up 373%! The benefits, including the provider networks, of the Medical Mutual insurance in 2009 through 2016 are basically the same.

All of these rate increases were approved by the Ohio Department of Insurance. I found out recently that the state of Ohio received huge multi-million dollar grants from the HHR to assist in the transparency of health insurance rate reviews, and to assist in the containment of rate hikes. The most recent grant was given to Ohio just this month. What does Ohio do with these grants? Other states have saved their citizens at least a billion dollars in rate hikes by using these funds for “effective rate review.” But not in Ohio. The state of Ohio grants rate hikes just as much as the insurance companies ask them for. Double-digit rate hikes, no problem! And Ohio keeps the process secret from their citizens, who they do not engage in “effective rate review.”

I’m not only robbed of my rights, I’m made to be a stooge to the Ohio health insurance industry, an industry that seems to have the Ohio Department of Insurance wrapped around its finger.

I’m just one person getting robbed, in the company of millions of other people getting robbed too – people facing double-digit health insurance rate increases year after year, whether or not health insurance is a part of their employment or they buy it individually. Unsustainable rate increases are happening to everyone in Ohio. Because in Ohio, whatever the insurance companies want, the insurance companies get.

Have you seen lately how we rank as a state? Ohio is the most expensive state for health insurance, see this April 2016 Department of Health and Human Services Brief, Table 4, page 9.

Not surprisingly, not only is the insurance way too expensive, the quality is questionable. A big problem exists with phony provider networks. I made two complaints to the ODI about this issue (see, CareSource complaint here). I wanted to see what other complaints have been made. I requested public records of health insurance complaints, but my efforts were completely thwarted by the Records Custodian at the Ohio Department of Insurance. After six weeks of hassle with them, they gave me a list of 50 complaint numbers and ODI employees the complaints were assigned to, with no other information — not even the the names of the insurance companies that were complained about!

No doubt a problem exists with phony provider networks, because Ohio has no regulation allowing for a punishment or fine for health insurance companies that have phony provider networks. That wouldn’t be something the insurance companies would want, so the Ohio Department of Insurance doesn’t impose such regulation.

Recently, the Ohio Department of Insurance secretly approved the merger of Aetna and Humana, burying the document deep in their website. It didn’t matter to the ODI that the Ohio legislative Insurance committees requested an investigation and public hearing. It didn’t matter to the ODI that consumer groups requested an investigation and public hearing. The ODI went right ahead and gave the insurance companies exactly what
they wanted, without any consideration to what the public and the elected officials asked for — an investigation and public hearing. A simple investigation and public hearing to consider the pros and cons of a merger between two companies representing such a
huge percentage of the market, and how that would affect Ohioans. Hmmmm……

There’s no other way to put it — it’s like we live in Russia.

It is appalling – the lack of transparency in this state!   And that’s not all.

Is it too much to ask from Ohio for the state insurance department to look after the best interests of its citizens when it comes to healthcare, instead of entirely, quite blatantly, enabling the health insurance industry to take utter advantage of us, and strip away any value to what they are selling, as well?

It’s killing us.

I hope you will consider the issues that I have brought up, and help in these ways:

The Ohio Department of Insurance should release public records upon request. Consumer complaints should be searchable on their website, similar to how they are on the Ohio Attorney General’s website, or better yet, like they are on the Texas Department of Insurance’s website. The ODI should do something constructive with the complaints that consumers make, and not just treat them like hot potatoes that they can’t throw far enough fast enough, that they completely erase after only TWO YEARS!

The ODI should create an effective rate review program like many other states have, such as Vermont. The ODI should not grant every rate hike the insurance companies ask for, rather, they should make the process public, and have public hearings about rate increases, in an effort to keep the annual rate hikes down.

It seems obvious, but the Ohio Department of Insurance needs to start serving the needs of Ohioans.

And finally, the ODI should tell me why they allowed Medical Mutual to raise my rate 224% the year it went on the Marketplace and 373% since 2009. (consumer complaint no. CSD-0034217.)

Their response, nearly nine months later:

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The Price I Have to Pay

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Lisa Iannotta
Office of the Ohio Attorney General
Collections Enforcement Section 150 E. Gay St.
Columbus, OH 43215

Dear Ms. Iannotta,

I reluctantly enclose a check for $10.05, the price I have to pay to get to see public records about provider network insurance complaints, only to find out that the Ohio Department of Insurance buries our complaints.

I resent having to pay anything to find out what a poor job the Ohio Department of Insurance is doing in regard to protecting Ohioans. The Ohio Department of Insurance should have to pay me, for all the time and trouble I had to go through, to learn the true fate of the complaints made by the citizens of Ohio, which is straight to the graveyard in the middle of the night.

The Ohio Department of Insurance should do their job, and that means they should clean up the provider network directories that Ohioans are complaining about, and not to make our complaints secret and delete them completely after only two years.

I resent that the Ohio Department of Insurance made this comment to the New York Times reporter, in the enclosed December 4, 2016 article in the New York Times, Insurers’ Flawed Directories Leave Patients Scrambling:

Enforcing [directory-accuracy rules] is “consumer-driven,” said David Hopcraft, a spokesman for the Ohio Insurance Department. The state does not check the lists until consumers report inaccuracies, one doctor at a time.

But the Ohio Department of Insurance doesn’t even do that much. The Ohio Department of Insurance makes provider network complaints confidential, shuffling them to a different office (the department undertaker) where they claim everything must be confidential by law. Then they bury them in secret — our provider network complaints are buried without a funeral or even a wake — we are never told what happened to our complaints, but we know for sure that they never saw the light of day.

Sincerely,

Penny Gentieu

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Penny Gentieu found many health insurance directories to be outdated and inaccurate.
Penny Gentieu found many health insurance directories to be outdated and inaccurate.

The Wild Wild West of American-style Pharmaceuticals

Pierre scans July 20160012

This is my great great grandfather’s photo of the Kickapoo Indian Medicine Company.

The Kickapoo Indian Medicine Company, of New Haven, Connecticut, sold “patent medicine” before they had patents for medicine. They sold snake oil when it was the cure-all. They weren’t really Indian. Kickapoo Medicine was often laced with alcohol, morphine, opium, or cocaine.

Fast forward to 2017. The shenanigans continue. Many mass market brand-name drugs that are nearing the end of their patent and even after the patent is over are being given orphan status. Orphan status allows the drug company to have a longer period of exclusivity on a drug and raise the price even higher than it was before.   Drugmakers Manipulate Orphan Drug Rules To Create Prized Monopolies     see also Orphan Drugs Lookup  new on Feb 10: Grassley launches inquiry into orphan drugs after KNH investigation

Meanwhile, generic drug manufacturers, taking advantage of patents that are no longer exclusive, have colluded with other drug manufacturers who make the same drug to raise their prices as much as 8,000%. A lawsuit is pending.   Alleged Scheme To Fix Generic Drug Prices Started At Dinners And ‘Girls Nights Out’

And now Trump wants to loosen regulations to encourage start-ups and get drugs to the market faster —  TRUMP’S PLAN FOR LOWERING BIG PHARMA DRUG PRICES COMES AT A HIGH COST

YEE-HAW!

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