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THE SYSTEM
A Weekly Checkup on Health Care Costs and Coverage

THE SYSTEM
A Weekly Checkup on Health Care Costs and Coverage

THE SYSTEM
A Weekly Checkup on Health Care Costs and Coverage

THE SYSTEM
Advocacy, for a Price
His teenage daughter suffered from Crohn's disease, a chronic digestive disorder. Compounding the problem was his insurance coverage, which carried a high deductible. So when uncovered treatment bills started rolling in -- statements, explanations of benefits, doctor bills, treatment lists--this Bethesda man threw up his hands in frustration.

THE SYSTEM
Postal Employees, Seeking Help
The sign on the bulletin board was a welcome invitation to the stressed-out U.S. Postal Service worker. In the event of personal overload or substance abuse, it advised employees to call the free, confidential employee assistance program (EAP). The Fort Washington employee, who asked not to be identified in this story, called and set up an appointment.

THE SYSTEM
Maryland's Mini Open Season
No medical underwriting. Individual coverage. Group rates. Sounds like just what many uninsured folks are hoping for.

THE SYSTEM
The Tooth Squad
It was painful enough that he broke a tooth. But when Zhigang Wang went to a Northern Virginia dentist to have it fixed, the real ache set in.

THE SYSTEM
A Weekly Checkup on Health Care Costs and Coverage

THE SYSTEM
A Weekly Checkup on Health Care Costs and Coverage

THE SYSTEM
A Weekly Checkup on Health Care Costs and Coverage

THE SYSTEM
A Weekly Checkup on Health Care Costs and Coverage

THE SYSTEM
A Weekly Checkup on Health Care Costs and Coverage

THE SYSTEM
A Weekly Checkup on Health Care Costs and Coverage

THE SYSTEM
A Weekly Checkup on Health Care Costs and Coverage

THE SYSTEM
A Weekly Checkup on Health Care Costs and Coverage

THE SYSTEM
A Weekly Checkup on Health Care Costs and Coverage

THE SYSTEM
A Weekly Checkup on Health Care Costs and Coverage

THE SYSTEM
A Weekly Checkup on Health Care Costs and Coverage

THE SYSTEM
A Weekly Checkup on Health Care Costs and Coverage

THE SYSTEM
A Weekly Checkup on Health Care Costs and Coverage

THE SYSTEM
A Weekly Checkup on Health Care Costs and Coverage

THE SYSTEM
A Weekly Checkup on Health Care Costs and Coverage

THE SYSTEM: Is Managed Mental Health Care Built for Crisis?
Experts are concerned that if there is a longer-term spike in demand for more extensive behavioral health services, the managed mental health care industry industry will be unprepared to handle it.

LEFT HOLDING THE PILL BOTTLE
Fallout from this month's withdrawal of the cholesterol-lowering drug Baycol has become quite the summer spectacle: Financially strapped drug maker pulls pill from the market after it's linked to 31 U.S. deaths; competitors rush in to offer "free" 30-day supplies of alternative meds; legions of lawyers flash Internet ads offering "advice." And somewhere in the haze stands the beleaguered consumer staring at a cabinet full of Baycol and worrying about his LDL.

COSTS, BENEFITS, ANALYSIS
Most patients get a little nervous when Wall Street enters the exam room, as it did again last week when insurance giant Aetna, the largest health insurer in the Washington area, announced a second straight quarter of losses -- $95.9 million after excluding one-time gains and losses. Executives cited large increases in medical costs in its managed care plans.

CAT SCAM?
The bill listed these charges: $2,112 for a 30-minute CAT scan, $31 for intravenous dye and $148 for "medical/surgical supplies." Then the real sting: The $300 "patient's responsibility" bottom line, remaining after Medicare paid its share.

THE SYSTEM
The Bonus Question
Earlier this month, Blue Cross of California announced it would immediately start to award bonuses to physicians based not only on their efforts to hold costs down, as managed care companies have done for years, but also on patient satisfaction data. Big news?



© 2002, 2003 The Washington Post Company

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