1. Archive

Two visits to doctors prove expensive and frustrating

Editor: Being overcharged for medical care is going on all the time. But when it happened to us, the outrage we felt compelled me to write, not only to you but also to the American Medical Association in Washington, D.C. On Oct. 22, 1990, my fiance hit his foot on a chair. We knew it was injured quite badly; however, we waited until the next day to go to the emergency room of a local hospital.

The X-rays that were taken showed a break or clean fracture of the little toe on the left foot.

The doctor in the emergency room taped the two toes together and told us that this was the standard care for broken toes. We knew this to be true, but the doctor told us we should take him over to a bone and joint center just to be sure in case they wanted to put a splint or shoe on it.

Feeling this visit was unnecessary we hesitated, but later in the evening decided we would call and make the appointment. On the initial call I was told they don't bill insurance, so we had to pay cash. No problem, right? Also I had to drive 30 miles to collect the original X-rays after they were read at the hospital and take them with me. I did this!

Arriving at the doctor's, we filled out a brief medical history form and waited to be seen.

The doctor we saw was pleasant, and he removed the tape put on in the emergency room. He then felt around and told us, well, that's about all that you can do, leave it taped. This took a total of eight minutes. He reapplied the tape and told us to return in three weeks for a check up.

We went to the counter to pay our bill thinking, how much can tape cost? The girl asked my fiance if he had a cast put on and he said, "No, just tape." She called back to see what and who saw him and then said it was $75.

We paid it reluctantly. I went home and called to ask why the charge was so high when all the doctor did was replace the original tape.

Her answer: "It's standard office procedure for an office visit, and I was lucky because most doctors charge more." Not true! I, of course, canceled the follow-up visit, feeling really ripped off.

My complaint to her gained me no satisfaction, so I sat down and wrote a letter to the AMA telling the association what I'm telling you. I copied the letter and took it to the doctor's office and once again asked if the people there would explain why an office visit for taping a toe is standard. She stated, "Well, we have a lot of paper work for patients."

I gave them a copy of my letter and told them of my intentions. Now I'm telling you:

Beware of referral follow-up consultations because I'm not sure what they did was ethical, and I'm certain what they did was unfair.

I feel we were taken advantage of and now know why insurance premiums are skyrocketing.

Marie E. Morris

New Port Richey

Social Security fund

will remain intact for all

Editor: I was very disturbed to read an article in the Oct. 21 edition by Ken Zapinski. I want to make it clear that I am not faulting Mr. Zapinski. He is reporting the news as he should. Rather, I am finding a great deal of difficulty trying to digest the verbal garbage that Professor (Warren) Peterson was trying to shove down my throat.

Professor Peterson is suggesting that because senior citizens do not receive any direct benefit from the school system, they wondered why they must contribute to it. This is absolute nonsense. He then goes on to say, "If you pursue this logic, then younger people should not be taxed to pay for Medicare and Social Security."

Professor Peterson, I think it is time you re-evaluated your logic. I want you to know that Social Security is an insurance policy paid for by these senior citizens all their working lives. It is not a give-away or welfare fund. They are entitled to the benefits of their insurance policy. Please do not forget that. These younger people are now paying their premiums for their future. No matter what the doomsdayers say, the money will be there for them when their Social Security insurance policy matures.

George Spina

Spring Hill

Try to communicate,

rather than litigate

Editor: It is axiomatic that laws are recorded as a protection of one's rights.

Regulatory rules and laws such as zoning ordinances may lack clarity in content by either too little or too much documentary language. When laws aren't clarified they often are compromised _ by time, content (or the lack thereof) and unnecessary legal review by an official (judge) of the court. Spring Hill's representatives were correct and proper in requesting suspensions of future business licenses by the commissioners, under the county's past zoning ordinance.

The county could have forestalled the distribution of business licenses until the matter is resolved. The document's (zoning ordinance) manner in which it was fashioned (language) may well pre-empt the distribution of future business licenses. Nonetheless, it would appear that documentary clarification is suspect. It is a matter the county should review and acknowledge.

Two-party communications and county reviews offer better solutions, thereby negating the sad alternatives. Litigation is costly, time-consuming and counter-productive in the long run.

In today's stressful economic climate, better, not worse, cooperation is necessary. Unsightly trucks, business-type vehicles, property displays (business), where they exist, and other offensive detractions are nuisances that indeed could devalue existing homes. And that, in itself, is a serious problem. It is and should be a source of concern to all Spring Hill residents and county officials. Especially so, when the housing market is in a recessionary stall, adversely impacting existing home values, as well.

In yet further developments, it is no secret that the federal government is decentralizing. In the process, it is accessing some federal programs to already overloaded state budgets. The state, in turn, has transferred some of these expenses to its counties. This is reflected in higher property taxes, as evidenced by our latest tax assessments. The homeowner, in essence, is taking a three-way hit.

Spring Hill is growing, in population and politics. No better testimony is evident than the most recent elections at the County Commission's level. In the end, government _ large or small _ is no better than those who govern or, worse, than those numbers who fail to support it.

It is incumbent on our elected officials to realize that government must be more concerned and sensitive to the justified needs and requirements of its people. The people cannot become more involved in their government when, in fact, they are excluded from its process.

Litigation, in any manner, is the finale of poor or lost communications. There are many instances when the taxpayer must ultimately pick up this tab, too.

Today, there are more than enough expenses to go around. Perhaps, there is a measure of truth in the old saying: If you're not understood, you haven't said nothing. Somewhere down the road, Spring Hill and the county will have to seek less costly avenues. Clarity in verbal and written communications still are much cheaper. The ensuing benefits are better, too, I might add, when communities and their elected officials consent to improve their relations. Litigation should always be in the court of last resort.

Louis Barbieri

Spring Hill