Friday, February 04, 2011

Mayo and insurance, also rant.

I got a thank you card from Mayo yesterday. It does kind of blow my mind that one of the world's premier medical institutions -- that anyone would be happy to go to -- is concerned about customer retention. I could be jaded and say: we'll they've probably made $100k from me so far. But I really don't think that's it. I don't think they're hurting for business, of course, but I have appreciated their fairly humble approach from day 1. At *no* point have they ever acted like, "we're Mayo. If you don't like it, go someone where else." Their care and customer service has been top-notch and they are a machine of efficiency. I've said this before, but many companies could benefit from watching how they do things. Their business model appears to be to do things quickly, efficiently, excellently, and profitably. I think all businesses would like to *think* that that's how they do things, but Mayo is a well-oiled machine that manages to never compromise customer (patient) satisfaction. Its truly amazing to watch them work.

One point that I've made here before is worth saying again: Mayo was once a referral-only specialty organization, but these days, they're in-network for many insurance plans and no referral is needed. *I* didn't need a referral, once I changed my insurance and got rid of Healthpartners. I just walked right in. My benefit level with them (and cost to me) is exactly the same as if I'd gone to any local Minneapolis hospital or doctor.

Medica and UCare are two plans that I know of that they take, and they take many others. (I know that they do *not* take Healthpartners).

If you're in the cities (or even in the 5-state area) they're the place you want to be. Or rather: they're the place you *don't* want to *need* to go to, if that makes any sense. But if you have any sort of ongoing condition, or haven't had a thorough physical in a while, give 'em a shot. You can call the Mayo Business Office at (507) 284 4366 to see if you're covered.

And if they don't take your insurance, you can always change your health plan provider annually at open enrollment no matter who you're insured through.

Just within the past few months, my dad changed his medicare provider to UCare, and and has now made Mayo his medical home-base. Dad went in for one issue and ended up getting a full workup in a second area, with potentially lifesaving results. They identified something that no one else had. So that's two people in the family now that they've managed to extend the lives of.

p.s. I'm doing great. Next check up at Mayo in about 2 months, but so far all still looking good.

A note about insurance, in general:

Even if you're insured through MCHA or through MinnesotaCare or Minnesota's General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC), you can choose which *provider* manages the care. I was on MinnesotaCare and I chose Healthpartners as the provider (which I regretted later). Medica was one of the options that I could have chosen when I joined up, I just didn't know that there was much of a difference. If you don't have insurance at all (and live in Minnesota) there are options for you right now that are sliding scale. Here is a good link to start your search:

Yes I had a lot of headaches with MinnesotaCare when it came time to switch. And they only cover $10,000 of hospitalization coverage per year, which is not nearly enough. But if you have no coverage (and qualify) it is much better than nothing, and much better than most student insurance plans. And it covers outpatient service with no apparently limit.

My MCHA (Minnesota Comprehensive Health Association) insurance (for which I chose Medica as the provider) costs me nearly $500 a month and then a $3,000 yearly deductible). This is because I have cancer and the pre-existing major condition makes me uninsurable from other self-insurance plans. I could get a corporate job, sure: but I'm in grad school and work part-time.


So, I spend about $6,000 a year to insure myself because of the cancer. Because what insurance companies hate above all else is having to actually pay out on claims. It really impacts their financials. Our US Medicare system seems to work fine, and "Obamacare" essentially seeks to extend that to people who are younger than 62. This seems reasonable for me. Yep, it will cost the country money. Seems to me that the direct health and longevity of *all* of its citizens should be a cost-priority right up there with education and defense. Oh, wait: we don't value education either. But *now* I'm ranting.