$12 KLEENEX, AND MORE…
Dan Frosch’s “Your Money or Your Life” [Feb. 21] assumes that medical claims driving the increase in bankruptcies are legitimate. My colleagues and I are medical billing advocates, and as such we uncover not just sloppy billing practices at all levels of our medical system but widespread fraud and abuse. Whenever a claim is denied, the patient is billed full price for that service, and often they pay it, or try to.
Examples: claim denied because the physician entered the wrong diagnosis code on the electronic record; emergency bill denied because the policy-holder neglected to tell the insurance company within forty-eight hours (he was comatose); a widow placed in collections four times by a hospital for a service her deceased husband never received; three defibrillator charges for the same procedure; routine supplies such as gowns and drapes charged individually; not to mention the $1,000 toothbrush for the patient admitted for facial surgery (his jaw was wired shut) or a “disposable mucous recovery system” (i.e., tissues) for $12 per box.
These claims are brought to our attention by studying the bills of the uninsured, but similar errors occur on virtually every hospital bill. People with co-insurance or who go out of network are equally at risk. Recently, an insured client who came to me with a bill approaching $90,000 finally paid $2,900–the overcharge almost all due to the insurer not complying with its own rules.
Health Savings Accounts, the newest player, has already caused its owners grief and greater expense due to its vulnerability to deceptive billing practices, demonstrating that if there’s a way to game the system, it will soon be figured out.
LIN OSBORN, director
Health Plan Navigator LLC
MARTYRS FOR ZION?
New York City
Though Baruch Kimmerling begins his essay by positing an exceptionally deep obsession with martyrdom in the Israeli psyche, he seems to lose the thread of his own thesis in the lengthy disquisition on Israeli exploitation of the Holocaust that follows [“Israel’s Culture of Martyrdom,” Jan. 10/17]. While Israeli leaders like David Ben-Gurion could well be accused of shaping the Holocaust narrative for their own ends, it does not follow, as Kimmerling suggests, that Zionist thinking transformed the victims of the Nazi extermination campaign into martyrs who gave their lives for Israel’s birth. If anything, the Zionist narrative is a cautionary tale. From Eichmann’s trial to the March of the Living (one of many identity-building trips in which Jewish youths are whisked from the chambers of Auschwitz to the face of Mt. Masada within twenty-four hours), the Zionist message seems exceptionally clear: Diaspora equals death; Israel equals redemption. Diaspora Jews were fools for thinking they could ever live without fear in any country that was not their own–so the story goes. The Israeli obsession is with survival–with the fear of death, not the embracing of it. A martyr chooses death over hypocrisy. The message implicit in much Zionist thought is that even hypocrisy won’t save you, that European Jews sped their own deaths by denying themselves and by trusting in gentile society. They died not so much as martyrs for the Jewish state but as victims of an inevitable scourge.