April 1997 Bulletin

Academy tells public need for access, choice

The Academy's messages about selecting managed care plans were told in 1,812 radio interviews broadcast on 1,156 stations across the nation following the Annual Meeting in February. The radio stations had a total potential audience of 12.2 million listeners.

The interviews with 18 Academy fellows at the Annual Meeting covered many of the points in the Academy's two managed care brochures - "Choose the Health Plan that Lets You Choose" and "Don't Wait Until It's Too Late, Ask Questions Now." John Sarwark, MD, told the public they should select a health care insurance plan that gives them the ability to choose the doctor and hospital they want and not necessarily for the least expensive plan. Paul Lotke, MD, stressed the need for flexibility in the health care plan because "you don't know when you will get sick. You want to be sure that your program will allow you the best care."

Joseph Zuckerman, MD, said "medicine in this country is the leading medical care in the world, primarily because of the development of specialty care. To make it difficult for patients to have access to that care severely compromises the quality of care they are going to have."

James D. Heckman, MD, Academy first vice president, urged the public to compare the features in many plans before making a selection and pointed out that the feature most important to the public is having access to the doctor they select. Letha Griffin, MD, asked listeners that if a son broke his arm would they want to go through a primary care doctor before seeing an orthopaedic surgeon or be delayed for several days before getting the needed medical care. George Lucas, MD, urged listeners to know the details of their coverage such as whether they would be covered for an out-of-town emergency.

Others told listeners that efforts to reduce health care costs were being accomplished by reducing medical care. Douglas W, Jackson, MD, Academy president, told the public that cost savings should be returned to the consumer in the form of lower insurance costs rather than given to investors in the managed care company or to the company's administrative overhead.

Laura Tosi, MD, told listeners that they need to study the provisions in their health insurance plan. If they don't have a choice because the health plan was selected by their employer, she said that individuals should work with their employer to get a better plan.

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