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Archived Article
7/8/2005
Consumer Watchdog
Richard Rowell, who spent a lifetime with his nose to the grindstone, figured that as a guy got older he ought to be able to kick back a bit and enjoy the fruits of his labors, including the financial fruits. But Kaiser Permanente has reached into Rowell's fiscal orchard and has been plucking some of Rowell's harvest. Finally, this year, Rowell is...
Archived Article
7/8/2005
Consumer Watchdog
Ritva Curley came to the United States from her native Finland more than three decades ago, and she can't be blamed if she occasionally wishes she were back there, at least insofar as the medical treatment she receives. Finland, like most industrial countries, has a form of socialized medicine. To people in Ritva's fix, it looks good by comparison...
Archived Article
7/8/2005
Consumer Watchdog
Dr. Doug Roberts spent years working for the mega-health care corporations, the ones that force doctors to treat patients like a fork-lift driver treats cartons in a warehouse. As he cared for those who came to him for help, he gradually developed a better idea. Now he has put it into practice, and he expects that other physicians will follow....
Archived Article
7/8/2005
Consumer Watchdog
Tom Garbin, a 60-year-old comedian from Australia who came to the United States a quarter of a century ago, is anything but amused at the way his health care provider has treated him over the past five years. First it stalled him relentlessly as he tried to get authorization for treatment, a series of delays that in one case almost cost him his...
Archived Article
7/8/2005
Consumer Watchdog
Seamstress Peggy McPhee has worked at a Santa Rosa bridal shop for 20 years. She has a good relationship with her boss, but the owner, like many small business people, simply can't afford to pay for Peggy's health insurance. So Peggy, 51, has fended for herself. Until now, she has always gotten by. It was easier back in the early 1980s when her...
Archived Article
7/8/2005
Consumer Watchdog
Alex Rose is exasperated by the continuing rise in health care costs, increases that threaten to take away his health insurance. But Alex also is disgusted by the larger picture: a United States health care system that is inefficient, uncaring and so confusing to health care consumers that they figure out how to navigate it only with great...
Archived Article
7/8/2005
Consumer Watchdog
Jo Christie has been with Kaiser for 35 years, but longevity, she has discovered, does not breed loyalty from the Kaiser executives who have been taking her money for decades. They have inched her rates up over the past several years until this year she has finally decided she may not be able to afford it anymore. Her premiums shot up to $490 a...
Archived Article
7/8/2005
Consumer Watchdog
Jonas Weisel seems like an honest enough guy, but lately he's been having trouble getting people to take him seriously. "When I tell them about this, almost nobody believes me," Weisel says. This is his latest notice from Kaiser, which came in the mail in early December. The health care insurer raised his rates from $564 to $955 - a jump...
Archived Article
7/8/2005
Consumer Watchdog
Last month, Kathryn Thuma read about a man who felt Kaiser Permanente had put a lump of coal in his stocking over the Christmas holidays by imposing a huge increase in his premium. Kathryn looked at her own December Kaiser bill and thought about the metaphor. Then she decided that it wouldn't work for her. "Kaiser didn't send me a lump of...
Archived Article
7/8/2005
Consumer Watchdog
The episode that changed Dana Morrison's life lasted only moments and began with her doing what this dedicated nurse always has done: looking out for her patient. But it ended with Dana enduring tremendous pain, being knocked out of the work force, and then facing the slings and arrows of a workers' comp system that never was all that kind to...