On August 23rd of last year, one week before Katrina, I started a letter to the CEO of Aetna (my insurer through my employer). I’m preoccupied with other matters now, so I doubt I’ll ever complete this letter, much less send it.
An open letter to Dr. John W. Rowe, Chief Executive Officer of Aetna Inc.
Dear Dr. Rowe,
I got a packet from Aetna yesterday containing four booklets, well over a hundred pages altogether. The cover letter stated this was my “Aetna Summary Benefit Description,” and advised me to “read this document carefully and keep it in a safe place.”
Let me get straight to the point: I don’t have time to read 120 pages just to understand my health care plan. Neither do most people. It’s outrageous to ask people to cope with this much information.
I don’t have time to read this much information, but I thought I’d at least give it a shot. I opened up the first booklet. On the very first page, I saw a paragraph labelled “NOTICE.” The pragraph, in all capitals and bold type, read as follows:
YOUR SHARE OF THE PAYMENT FOR HEALTH CARE SERVICES MAY BE BASED ON THE AGREEMENT BETWEEN YOUR HEALTH PLAN AND YOUR PROVIDER. UNDER CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES, THIS AGREEMENT MAY ALLOW YOUR PROVIDER TO BILL YOU FOR AMOUNTS UP TO THE PROVIDER’S REGULAR BILLED CHARGES.
I didn’t understand what this meant the first time I read it, so I read it again. Then I read it a third time. Still I was perplexed.
But I noted the cover letter also said that if I had any questions, I could call Member Services. So I did. And they had no idea what I was talking about. Turns out they don’t even have a copy of these booklets on hand. Isn’t that something?
And so I write to you to express my frustration and dissatisfaction.