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Shit! I have GH through the end of December! I don't have an urgent need for one right now (and hopefully not in the future), but this really makes me want to switch insurance companies. What do I do?
Posted by hey on August 27, 2013 at 5:35 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 2
Dang. Because other than this Group Health has always been the best insurance you could have.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on August 27, 2013 at 5:36 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 3
"Barring low-income women from comprehensive reproductive healthcare" Who is barring them from having an abortion? NOT Group Health. It appears GHealth does not sell that item to anyone, rich, poor, black, white, male, female, young, old. The "barring" situation is not clear. How are they barring something they don't even provide. That's like saying a green grocer bars people from eating meat, because they don't sell meat.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on August 27, 2013 at 5:44 PM · Report this
"Group Health asserts that abortion care will be made available to patients in Group Health clinics, but the lack of coverage in the plan creates confusion..."

Can someone explain what is and is not being provided? Weo bviously can't rely on Dominic to do anything but regurgitate press releases.
Posted by bigyaz on August 27, 2013 at 5:45 PM · Report this
michaelp 5
It sounds to me that the Cooperative is offering abortion coverage so long as the procedure is performed at a Group Health facility. While that fits in with the general care offered by Group Health (members see GHC doctors), it does place a restriction for new members who don't live in Seattle (if memory serves, the one place that GHC provides abortion services is in Seattle).

The general membership meeting is in October, I believe. Hopefully the members remind those crafting the plans what values we hold dear - and that includes access to safe abortion.
Posted by michaelp on August 27, 2013 at 5:53 PM · Report this
Guess what? The undereducated homo trash that comprises Stranger readership have all worked at coffee shops. Go figure.
Posted by UneducatedFagsAtStarbucks on August 27, 2013 at 6:07 PM · Report this
Rodney Tom can go fuck himself.
Posted by StuckInUtah on August 27, 2013 at 6:32 PM · Report this
Pick1 8
@6 I have never once worked at a coffee shop. In fact, for the most part I'm not a fan of people generally speaking.

Despite all this I have this thing called empathy. I don't know how or why, but when others feel bad, so do I. I just don't get it. I wish I could be a sociopath like you, but I can't. And so I support equal treatment of all citizens.

I guess we all have our crosses to bear.
Posted by Pick1 on August 27, 2013 at 7:25 PM · Report this
Fnarf 9
@2, really? Because I am increasingly finding that for routine medical needs, Group Health costs more AFTER INSURANCE than just walking into a clinic. My eye exam cost twice as much AFTER INSURANCE as the same exam at Fred Meyer. And when I was having trouble with depression and sleeping, they sent me to a "specialist" who immediately told me without even examining me that I was suffering from sleep apnia and needed to buy one of these $1500 appliances in this catalog here, but don't worry, insurance will pay. And when I had a LIHI incident the doctor couldn't stop talking about her trip to Australia to the point where she said to me, right after I said "the pain is worse", "so, the pain is going away, that's good". And -- well, you get the idea. The worst involved, among other things, lying on a cold bathroom floor trying to give myself an enema while the nurse banged on the door and shouted "READY YET? READY YET?"

I fucking HATE Group Health. But I don't have any other options at my work.
Posted by Fnarf on August 27, 2013 at 7:37 PM · Report this
"What do I do?"

Put an aspirin between your knees.

Posted by Sugartit on August 27, 2013 at 8:46 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 11

Seattle joke. It's funny because everybody hates Group Health.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on August 27, 2013 at 8:53 PM · Report this
Dom, thank you for not calling Group Health a cooperative. Despite using "Cooperative" in their name, they are neither member-owned nor member-controlled. There are real mutual health insurance companies, just like there are mutual insurance companies for all kinds of insurance. Group Health is giving all of them a bad name, and it pisses me off.
Posted by aleks on August 27, 2013 at 9:54 PM · Report this
MrBaker 13
@6, I'm not gay.
Posted by MrBaker on August 27, 2013 at 10:11 PM · Report this
@9 We used to refer to them as Group Death, after a colleague was repeatedly told she had a cold caused by a virus and couldn't have antibiotics because they wouldn't work. They refused to do a chest xray. When she collapsed and was rushed to the nearest ER (Northwest), they doctors told her she had a severe case of pneumonia and was about to go septic, and wanted to know why she hadn't sought treatment earlier, as in their estimation she would have been dead in another 24 hours.
Posted by StuckInUtah on August 27, 2013 at 11:46 PM · Report this
Dr. Z 15
To those who've had problems with Group Health (or any other plan): call the Washington Insurance Commissioner and complain. You'd be surprised how quickly that will get the attention of a healthcare insurer. The Washington OIC has been aggressive in following up on complaints.
Posted by Dr. Z on August 28, 2013 at 2:29 AM · Report this
Baby Blue 16
It is my understanding that medically necessary procedures (i.e. DNCs) are still performed and covered. Coverage for elective abortions is available in Group Health clinics at the patient's expense.

I don't find this shocking or problematic at all. Birth Control is still covered and available. If you have such a need for elective abortions at a $20 co-pay, you probably need to examine your choice of birth control methods. Also, I've never had an employer who didn't also offer a PPO plan option but the difference in premiums and deductible probably still makes Group Health the more affordable option even if you pay for 10 abortions out of pocket.

I've had surprisingly good luck with Group Health in the last few years after hating them and referring to them "Group Death" myself for years. This does not alter my newly favorable opinion of them.
Posted by Baby Blue on August 28, 2013 at 8:29 AM · Report this
@16: An abortion costs something like $500 and is best done in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, which might not be detected for 3-4 weeks after conception. Have you ever worked minimum wage and tried to come up with $500 in just a few weeks? It is really difficult. That is what insurance coverage for abortion is really about.

It sounds like you've been lucky to always work for employers who offered multiple decent health insurance plans, so I'm assuming you've not experienced the joys of being working class. Hence I suggest you check your classism the next time you opine on what insurance does or doesn't cover.
Posted by wxPDX on August 28, 2013 at 10:01 AM · Report this
stirwise 18
@16: You say
Coverage for elective abortions is available in Group Health clinics at the patient's expense.

That makes no sense. If it's only available at patient's expense, then by definition coverage is not available.
Coverage = insurance coverage = insurance pays all or part. "Patient's expense" is the exact opposite of coverage.
Posted by stirwise on August 28, 2013 at 11:56 AM · Report this
Fnarf 19
@18, that's the Group Health Way: "coverage" means you pay. They are not in the business of health care insurance, but in the business of collecting health care premiums.

I have read through the clarification by Group Health twice and I cannot understand a single word of it. I feel the same way about the phone-book-thick manual of coverage they have here at my work. American health care is hopelessly fucked. ACA is an improvement, in the sense that putting a coat over the face of a dead body in the street is an improvement.

Single payer national health care now.
Posted by Fnarf on August 28, 2013 at 4:58 PM · Report this
Dr. Z 20
@19: while I agree that single payer is necessary, it may not be sufficient. Single payer should provide a "floor", a guaranteed minimum level of basic healthcare coverage. If you want more, you can buy a supplemental plan. Otherwise, there is a risk that everyone could get stuck with the same lousy coverage a la the VA hospitals. (And it's probably the only way it could ever get passed thru Congress, assuming that anything could get thru Congress.)
Posted by Dr. Z on August 28, 2013 at 5:36 PM · Report this
I think that what Group Health is saying is that if someone with an exchange purchased Group Health plan wants pregnancy termination, they can obtain that service at a Group Health facility for the co-payment that they would have paid if it were an insured benefit. Since its not a covered benefit, it sounds like Group Health is giving the prospective patients "a deal" on the procedure.
Posted by WestSeven on August 28, 2013 at 5:54 PM · Report this
fletc3her 22
In short, there's no story and PP and NARAL are beating up on one of their best insurance partner allies for no benefit.
Posted by fletc3her on August 28, 2013 at 6:16 PM · Report this
I really like Group Health. Their doctors are really communicative, the price we pay is well below a straight up ppo like Aetna or Regence. I've not had the money and needed to terminate a pregnancy and in the seattle area that has never been an issue. I don't understand what everyone is so up in arms about? and if you don't make money because you're "working class" then there are many clinics that offer a sliding scale. Jesus people, we live in Seattle not somewhere you have to drive 200 miles to get to the nearest clinic that will even let you pay for an abortion. take it easy, life is pretty good in the Northwest. A little perspective.
Posted by ghcaintbad on August 28, 2013 at 7:48 PM · Report this
Dr. Z 24
@23: from a cost and member satisfaction perspective, for most people a HSA will beat a PPO or a HMO hands down.
Posted by Dr. Z on August 28, 2013 at 7:56 PM · Report this
ragold 25
what does "as if a covered benefit" mean? $15? $0?

And the last question needs to be asked again. It doesn't answer the question.
Posted by ragold on August 28, 2013 at 8:11 PM · Report this
Lost in translation?

Group Health is saying that rather than doing their job well, those in "leadership" failed to obtain good, sound legal guidance in this matter in a timely manner. So, they created yet another confusing, slack-ass bureaucratic workaroud.

Thus, for 2014, GH will provide abortions under an internal policy governing their own facilities and staff instead of doing it the right way through their actual coverage policy.

The two problems with this method are as follows:

1. Internal policies are subject to change, reinterpretation or elimination without notice, apology or liability. By providing this essential service in this manner GH is setting both a bad example and bad precedent that may be followed by others who will use a similar method to say they offer coverage, but remain free throughout the year to change the terms of access to it.

2. GH members who opt for coverage policies that include medical treatment by providers outside of GH will not be covered for these reproductive services; so, members who live a great distance from the few GH facilities that provide this service would be forced to travel a greater distance to obtain medical treatment. Some people simply cannot afford to travel that distance.

Group Health fucked up and won't admit it. For the next year, you're at the mercy of the whims of the bureaucracy. The service may or may not be available; you may or may not be charged for it. One thing is certain, though, you will have no right to demand it. It's just that simple.
Posted by Good intentions are no substitute for good work. on August 28, 2013 at 9:09 PM · Report this
Very interesting article. well researched and very informative.

Posted by Chaser on August 28, 2013 at 11:04 PM · Report this
John Scott Tynes 28
This is actually some fairly incompetent journalism, instigated by some fairly incompetent and alarmist PR from Planned Parenthood. Which admittedly has plenty to be alarmist about on any given day, but this is nonsense.

1) Our state legislature was fucked up and bullshit.
2) Given that, Group Health had to deliver their official 2014 policies by a fixed deadline and they left abortion out of those policies because that was exactly the issue that was fucked up and bullshit in the state legislature. Had they included it, and the state legislature successfully blocked it, Group Health could have been legally liable and would have had to revise and reissue their policies under whatever mechanism is available.
3) Regardless, as a matter of ongoing practice, they handle abortions as usual via a co-pay or whatever. This was not impacted by the specific policy documents.
4) As soon as the legislature stopped being fucked up and bullshit, Group Health put abortion into their 2015 policy planning.
5) Abortion services were never at risk. Only the combination of our fucked up and bullshit legislature and the deadline for 2014 policy writing resulted in this PR kerfuffle.
6) Neither Planned Parenthood nor the Stranger held anyone's feet to the fire here. Group Health's long commitment to reproductive rights was never in jeopardy.
7) Admittedly, Group Health should hire Jonah Spagenthaler-Lee away from the SPD to write their messaging because there were apparently too few bong jokes for Planned Parenthood and the Stranger to actually understand what was going on here, which was nothing.

But I realize everybody loves a good witch hunt within the ranks of long-time allies, so if you want to feel like you've just won a victory then sure, cupcake, you knock yourself out. I hope you enjoy the rest of preschool.
Posted by John Scott Tynes on August 29, 2013 at 12:31 AM · Report this
Thank you Mr. Tynes. That was refreshingly clear.
Posted by Mugwumpt on August 29, 2013 at 9:34 AM · Report this
The Communication Course of Narconon Fresh Start aims at enhancing the clients’ communication skills, since drug addiction makes it difficult to communicate with people around, and when the addicts confront with sensitive issues they tend to withdraw completely. Narconon’s training is designed to help the clients with this problem.
Posted by Armstrong on December 23, 2013 at 2:35 AM · Report this

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