The Washington Times-Herald

Features

December 28, 2011

Preventive care: It's free, except when it's not

(Continued)

CHICAGO —

Knowing that would cost her $700, and knowing her doctor had ordered a screening mammogram, Thomas stood her ground.

"Either I get a screening today or I'm putting my clothes back on and I'm leaving," she remembers telling the hospital staff. It worked. Her mammogram was counted as preventive and she got it for free.

"A lot of women ... are getting labeled with that diagnostic code and having to pay year after year for that," Thomas said. "It's a loophole so insurance companies don't have to pay for it."

For parents with several children, costs can pile up with unexpected copays for kids needing shots. Even when copays are inexpensive, they can blemish a patient-doctor relationship. Robin Brassner of Jersey City, N.J., expected her doctor visit to be free. All she wanted was a flu shot. But the doctor charged her a $20 copay.

"He said no one really comes in for just a flu shot. They inevitably mention another ailment, so he charges," Brassner said. As a new patient, she didn't want to start the relationship by complaining, but she left feeling irritated. "Next time, I'll be a little more assertive about it," she said.

How confused are doctors?

"Extremely," said Cheryl Gregg Fahrenholz, an Ohio consultant who works with physicians. It's common for doctors to deal with 200 different insurance plans. And some older plans are exempt.

Should insurance now pay for aspirin? Aspirin to prevent heart disease and stroke is one of the covered services for older patients. But it's unclear whether insurers are supposed to pay only for doctors to tell older patients about aspirin — or whether they're supposed to pay for the aspirin itself, said Dr. Jason Spangler, chief medical officer for the nonpartisan Partnership for Prevention.

Text Only
Features
  • solar-eclipse.jpg VIDEO: 'Ring of fire' solar eclipse

     

    The solar eclipse that took place Sunday evening was an annular eclipse, one in which the moon blocks almost all of the sun. Some of the best viewing was in Asia, as with this video filmed in Japan. 

    May 23, 2012 1 Photo

  • obama.jpg Video: President Obama endorses same-sex marriage

    A day after an amendment banning gay marriage passed in North Carolina, President Barack Obama tells ABC News that he believes same-sex couples should be able to get married.

    May 10, 2012 1 Photo

  • hitandrun.jpg Raw video: Camera captures dramatic hit-and-run

    A surveillance video captured a driver striking a pedestrian and sending him flipping through the air. Police caught the driver within minutes. Incredibly, the victim wasn't seriously hurt.

    May 10, 2012 1 Photo

  • bears.jpg Viral video: Bears interrupt weather report at Pa. TV station

    A mama bear and three of her cubs were caught on camera at a northeastern Pennsylvania television station seconds before a live weather report was about to begin.

    April 26, 2012 1 Photo

  • fenway5.jpg Photo tribute: 100 years of baseball at Fenway Park

    This year Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox, celebrates its 100th anniversary as America's oldest Major League stadium -- and the setting for some of baseball's greatest players, historic wins and crushing losses. That sacred magic is captured in two exhibits at the 20-year-old Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester, a Boston suburb.

    April 19, 2012 1 Photo 1 Slideshow

  • survival-stories.jpg Tales of survival from Woodward's deadly tornado

    Stirring stories of survival are emerging from Woodward's tornado, but none was more compelling than that of an 87-year-old widow who escaped unscathed by hiding in her bedroom closet while her house exploded around her. Sixty-five years earlier she survived Oklahoma's deadliest tornado, one that killed 116 of her neighbors, by hiding under a dining room table.

    April 18, 2012 1 Photo

  • footloose.jpg Viral video: High school prom spills into street for 'Footloose' dance

    A group of high school students from Oklahoma made their prom memorable by staging a choreographed dance to "Footloose" in the middle of the street. The video of students from Hennessey High School in Hennessey, Okla., was shot Saturday night and is quickly going viral.

    April 17, 2012 1 Photo

  • tornado-video.jpg VIDEO: Lightning illuminates tornado as it hits Okla. town

    The assistant editor from the Woodward News in Oklahoma captured this video as a tornado touched down early Sunday morning, killing five people and injuring dozens more.

    April 16, 2012 1 Photo

  • tornado04.jpg SLIDESHOW: Deadly tornado flattens homes in Okla. A tornado ripped through Woodward, Okla., early Sunday morning as part of a dangerous storm system that swept through the Midwest this weekend. At least five people in Woodward were killed and dozens more were injured.

    April 16, 2012

  • Viral video: Rain delay antics at college baseball game

    Fans aren't the only ones who get bored during rain delays in college baseball -- the players do too. But the teams from the Southern Miss and Ole Miss found some creative ways to pass the time this week during an extended delay at Trustmark Park in Pearl, Miss.

    April 5, 2012