School employees need better deal
During the last quarter of 2009, my wife encountered a medical issue requiring emergency surgery, and a subsequent eight-day hospital stay for recovery. She is one of thousands locally enrolled in the Blue Cross/Blue Shield insurance program offered through her employment. The hospital billed $47,129.67 for the eight-day stay. BC/BS leveraged its combined customer enrollment to reduce the bill to $2,682.67, a whopping 94.3 percent discount. It leaves the patient whose enrollment was used to negotiate the 94.3 percent discount no similar leverage to negotiate a similar discount for her portion of the billing.
This preferential corporate discounting illustrates how corporate America uses Main Street America to its advantage when paying, then throws the same Main Street American, the customer whose collective enrollment was used for the discount, under the bus. This is the same corporate BC/BS that devalued the same enrollment numbers by raising insurance premiums on their enrollees by 14 percent for the current enrollment period.
If BC/BS can leverage its enrollment numbers to negotiate a 94.3 percent discount from the hospital when it's paying, then how can those same enrollment numbers result in a 14 percent premium increase on individuals when it's collecting premiums?
This question falls at the feet of those Hernando County School District officials responsible for negotiating insurance premiums on behalf of the employees, and Hernando County taxpayers.
Perhaps a homework assignment regarding the negotiating value afforded in numbers would be a good place to start. It's time for the School District to sharpen its negotiating skills, and Hernando County taxpayers to raise their collective voices, and demand the blue-light discount special be applied equally, not just to a chosen few.
Jim Gries, Weeki Wachee
Lack of charity at parks frustrating
I am a yoga teacher here in Hernando County. In October, I contacted the Hernando County Parks Department about holding yoga classes on Pine Island Beach for charity. At first, the department as unclear as to what I was planning, but after further explanation, agreed to let me hold the charity class on the beach once all the proper paperwork was in order.
On Nov. 14, I held a class that raised more than $600 in cash and goods for the Dawn Center, our local domestic and sexual violence shelter. In December, I held a second class for Toys for Tots, resulting in a trunk load of toys I delivered to the Marine Corps detachment.
My students and all participants in the classes voiced how much they enjoyed the experience and how wonderful it would be to continue on a regular basis. Upon approaching the parks department once again through Penny Oliver, I was told the county was not going to participate and that it would collect 30 percent of any money made. I explained once again that these classes are for charity and that no one is getting paid. I contacted (parks director) Pat Fagan to explain further, but he did not to respond to my e-mail or return my phone calls.
I cannot help but wonder why the Hernando County Parks Department chooses not to participate in a charitable program. I cannot help but wonder why it wouldn't encourage use of our parks, especially since some people in the classes did not know the park existed!
I am extremely disappointed and disheartened by the county's lack of compassion. Anyone have an answer?
Diana Reed, Spring Hill