How To Play HMO HARDBALL
From Exam Room to Courtroom Get Necessary Tests & Treatments
"The HMO BLUES"
On Saturday, January 30, 1999, my wife, Jackie spent the morning at our HMO for tests. The lab was understaffed, worse than usual. Other patients had waited an hour for a two-minute blood test. Jackie sat down.

A young mother rushed in carrying an hysterical little boy. She left him alone in the seat next to Jackie so that she could try to cut through the bureaucracy. The staff didn't try to help or to call for help.

We believe that helping people is right. Jackie and I have helped other HMO patients. She tried to calm the boy by asking questions. It worked! He stopped shaking and sobbing. Here's a snapshot of the conversation:

Q. What's wrong?
A. I don't want any more blackouts.

Q. How old are you?
A. Five.

Q. Do you like pizza?
A. Yes.

Q. What's your favorite?
A. Pineapple.

His mom returned ten minutes later. The three of them continued the Q & A. The little guy was having seizures. My wife, not our HMO, was their patient rights advocate.

Our HMO violates patients' rights instead of enforcing them, just like every HMO. Earlier that week we had read newspaper articles reporting a jury verdict against an HMO that had caused an 18-month old girl's death. What happened?
  The baby was taken by ambulance to an emergency room (ER) that didn't contract with the family's HMO. Coincidentally, we are in the same HMO.

  The ER doctor requested permission from the HMO to do simple blood tests. Three times he asked. Three times the HMO refused. Life-saving antibiotics could not be administered without blood tests.

  The HMO demanded that the tests be performed at its site location. The little girl died twenty minutes after arrival at the HMO's ER.
I reminded my wife that in 1995 a Georgia jury had found that an HMO's inhuman ER policies had caused a baby boy to have his hands and feet amputated. Again, the HMO demanded that the baby be taken to a distant HMO hospital, resulting in a delay of care. Coincidentally, it's our HMO.

Jackie expressed her outrage for the rest of the day, throughout the evening and during the next day until the Super Bowl kickoff. Just before half-time, she got my book, How to Play HMO HARDBALL, and a pad of paper. When half-time was over, Jackie had written 18 verses of "THE HMO BLUES".

Her song's very funny. Her song's very tragic. I remarked that "blues" lyrics express human hardship and sorrow. Jackie's song explains why HMO patients have a right to sing the blues. "The HMO BLUES" is a poignant addition to my site's "HMO Hustler" section.

We hope that you recall this song every time you interact with your HMO and its doctors. HMOs play hardball. Learn How to Play HMO HARDBALL successfully. Protect yourself and your loved ones.
Don't wait!

Listen to Jackie's rendition of "The HMO BLUES" and sing along, it's fun...
Created and produced by Robert and Jacquelyn Finney, CounterPoint Communications.

Website consultant Ray Koch, Groundswell Productions

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