End-of-Life choice; More transparency for hospital billing; Thanks for speed reduction — Letters to the Editor, Feb. 27, 2019


End-of-life choice  should be up to you

In the past year of traveling Oregon and talking about expanding Oregon end-of-life choices, something became very apparent: I am not the only one that does not want to live with a dementia of any type.

I have met only one person in this time who said it didn’t matter to them.

It’s all about choices and your God-given right to make those choices. Right now in front of our legislators are three House bills and one Senate bill to expand Oregon end-of-life choices

You can help make these choices happen by emailing your state representatives and showing your support for expanding Oregon end-of-life choices.

—Bruce Yelle

Florence

 More transparency for hospital billing

The Patient Bill of Rights was signed into law numerous years ago. It empowers patients in concert with hospitals and caregivers to have a significant part in numerous aspects of their care. Most hospitals, including PeaceHealth Peace Harbor have supported the bill, at least in some degree.

The fly in the ointment, however, is lack of hospital transparency, which effectively negates the patient’s right and ability to pursue their concerns, whether it be billing, standard of care or some other issue.

I recently received a bill for laboratory services. One of the billed procedures was a blood draw for $56. As a former Medical Laboratory Director of 32 years, I was stunned by what I felt was an obscene charge.

I know that the price of vacutainers, needles, labels and tape, and labor could not have cost the hospital more than $5. Other patients had already complained to me about laboratory bills that have increased wildly from previous years.

I sought an explanation for the overpriced drawing fee. Several Peace Harbor employees stated that they did not have specifics for my question. Also, during my endeavor for an explanation, I learned that about 75 percent of the blood tests drawn on patients that go to the outpatient drawing lab are actually tested in the local laboratory.

The other approximately 25 percent of tests, which are more esoteric, are sent out to Quest Reference Laboratory in Eugene. (Some will recall that this is the lab that purchased PeaceHealth Laboratories in Eugene.)

I also learned that  PeaceHealth, rather than Quest, was billing those patients for the 25 percent of these tests that are sent off premise. I am assuming that PeaceHealth reimburses Quest later in some manner for the testing. This practice is known as “pass through billing” and is viewed as unethical and, by some insurances, fraudulent. Call the 800 number on the back of your insurance card and ask how pass through billing will affect you.

Tests should be billed by the lab that performs the procedure. The only way that that can occur now is to get an order from a provider and take it to a Quest drawing site in Eugene.

Peace Harbor should be able to draw the blood ($56) and send billing information to Quest so that patients can receive a direct bill from the performing lab, Quest.

Also, I noticed on my last visit to our caregiver that we who are in reality “outpatients” are admitted to the hospital as patients and then are immediately discharged after our visit.

It would be nice to know how that change affects visits and billing.

These are my impressions of what is occurring to the best of my knowledge. In my opinion, much needed transparency is lacking. I have sought answers to my concerns but the ability to get information is almost nil.

—Delmer Neeley

Florence

Thanks for speed reduction

We thank the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and Mike Miller with the City of Florence for lowering the speed limit along a section of Rhododendron Drive from 45 mph to 40 mph, bringing it in line with other roads — many with fewer residents.

After moving into a neighborhood adjacent to the section of Rhododendron Drive with the 45 mph speed limit, we realized how dangerous it was to pull out when cars rounded the curves at that speed and above.

The City of Florence listened to our concerns and ODOT verified them with their speed zone investigation. 

—Mike and Pat Allen

Florence

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