Thursday, July 09, 2009
Spend your holiday reading your health insurance policy
By Dr. Anthony Policastro

I was on call for the July 4th weekend. Some people were barbecuing, some were watching fireworks and some were becoming sick. I took care of the latter group. One of the activities that people probably did not do that weekend was read their medical insurance policy. It might be a good thing to do when you have some free time. My daughter and son-in-law work for Blue Cross/Blue Shield of South Carolina. When I talk to them about insurance company problems, they usually have the same answer. What they tell me is that the insurance company does not make the rules. It is the employer who signs the contract that makes the rules. All the insurance company does is enforce what the employer wants. The disconnect is that the employer signs the contract. However, it is not likely that the employer reads the fine print. That happened to one of my patients on Saturday, July 4. I had sent a baby home from the nursery on Friday, July 3. The infant had jaundice. The infant needed a repeat blood test on Saturday. I had them come back to the hospital on Saturday morning for the repeat blood test. The registration desk called me. The baby's insurance would not allow them to use the hospital lab. They had to use an outside lab. It was the Fourth of July so the outside lab was closed. That means that we needed permission to use the hospital lab. That permission needed to come from the insurance company. It was the Fourth of July so the insurance company offices were closed. That means that I had several choices. The first was to not do the test that the baby needed. The second was to do the test but not charge the insurance company. The third was to do the test and then get the insurance company to approve it after the fact. The logical choice was to get the insurance company to pay for it later. The only problem with that was until they approved it, the family was responsible for the bill. If they did not approve it, the family would then have to pay the bill. That is not a good position to put new parents in. We solved the problem in this case. However, it could be someone else that needs something done on a holiday the next time. What this means to the average person is that they need to know what is in their medical insurance policy. If they find something in it like having to use a lab that is closed on weekends or holidays, they need to complain to their human resources office at work. The policy will not be changed unless the people who are doing the insuring request that it be changed. Someone needs to read the fine print. It may not be the individual in human resources but the employer who does so. For that reason, you might want to plan to spend your next holiday reading your medical insurance policy.

Nanticoke Health Services to participate in Riverfest Nanticoke Health Services will once again be part of this year's Riverfest with a health tent located at the Nanticoke Network Building across from Gateway Park in Seaford (corner of Front and Market Streets). The tent will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 11. Healthcare professionals will provide free: blood pressure checks; screenings for risk of circulatory problems; information on healthy lifestyles and programs and services available at Nanticoke; cancer screening information; and information on Nanticoke's Wound Care Center. Meet Nanticoke's most recent addition to their surgical staff, Dr. Michael Wingate and their newest Nephrologist, Dr. Janet Cruz. A First-Aid station will be located under the tent. There will be health information for all ages and interactive displays. The first 100 participants (one per family) will receive a free gift. To learn more about Nanticoke's health tent, contact Nanticoke Occupational Health at 629-6611, ext. 8682.

PRMC rated among top 5% Peninsula Regional Medical Center (PRMC) has received the 2009-2010 Women's Health Excellence Award from HealthGrades, the nation's leading independent healthcare ratings organization, based on a newly released study of patient outcomes. The award ranks PRMC among the top 5% of all United States hospitals for Women's Health, and places it among an elite group of 169 American hospitals to have earned this national distinction. Peninsula Regional Medical Center is the only hospital or medical center in Maryland and the Washington, D.C. region to receive this award. In addition, HealthGrades presented Peninsula Regional a 5-Star Rating in Women's Health Services for 2009-2010. Hospitals receiving the Women's Health Excellence Award rank among the top 5% of all hospitals nationwide when it comes to providing care to women in three areas: Women's Medicine; Women's Cardiovascular Procedures; and Women's Bone & Joint Health. The full HealthGrades study can be found at For more information on women's health services at Peninsula Regional Medical Center, visit or call 410-546-6400.

Nemours' activities for children Saturday, July 11, 10 a.m. -3 p.m. Join Nemours and the Sussex Child Health Promotion Coalition for some fun activities for children behind City Hall at the Vansciver Children's area. This is a great opportunity for children and adults to get physical while also learning about healthy eating.

Depression Support Group There will be a free bimonthly Depression Support Group meeting in Laurel on the second and fourth Wednesday evenings from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Any person who has signs and symptoms of depression and is under the care of a professional counselor/MD is welcome to attend. To register, call Life Matters Counseling and Consulting at 302-465-6612.

Respite Care launches new website The Delaware Lifespan Respite Care Network has launched their new website,, to help nearly 160,000 Delawareans providing unpaid care for a relative, friend or loved one with the resources they need to find quality respite care. Respite care is the temporary relief or "break" provided for caregivers and families who are caring for those with disabilities, chronic or terminal illnesses or the elderly. Easter Seals Delaware & Maryland's Eastern Shore, the lead agency for the project, is overseeing the Delaware Lifespan Respite Care Network, a statewide initiative dedicated to helping people identify and secure respite care. The Network has also launched a free Respite Information & Referral Service that is available by calling 888-610-5572 or 302-479-1690. Financial Assistance is available to caregivers and others providing care by applying online, downloading an application from the website or calling the toll-free or local telephone numbers.

Hospice 5K Run and Family Walk Join friends and supporters of Delaware Hospice for the first annual Delaware Hospice 5K Run and Family Fun Walk on Wednesday, July 15, at 6:30 p.m. at the Delaware Hospice Center in Milford. Registration begins at 5:30 p.m. Children and casual walkers can choose the short and easy "fun walk," and more serious walkers, joggers and runners will enjoy the official 5K "flat and fast" race course. Awards will be presented to overall male and female finishers and the top three in 10-year age groups from 13 & under to 70+, as well as to the top three male and female walkers. All participants will receive t-shirts and enjoy a post-race barbecue and prizes. Register at Registration fee is $15 for individuals, and $50 for team/family rate. For more information, call Peggy Dolby at 800-838-9800.

CHEER hosts free workshop Many adults face the challenge of managing one - and often several - chronic medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, hearing problems and depression. The Chronic Disease Self Management Program (CDSMP), developed at Stanford University, has proven extremely effective at enabling people to take more control of their own health. This program can give adults a sense of control over their lives, improve their day-to-day functioning, and help save on medical bills. This program will begin at the CHEER Community Center on Wednesday, Aug. 5 and it ends Wednesday, Sept. 9. The program consists of 6 - 2 hour workshops which will be held from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Registration is required. For more information and to register, call Cindy Mitchell at 302-856-5187.

Family Caregiver training The Alzheimer's Association Delaware Valley Chapter sponsors The Family Caregiver Education Series four times a year in each of Delaware's three counties. Renaissance HealthCare Center in Millsboro will host the training on Wednesday, July 22, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. This training for family caregivers is free and lunch will be provided by Renaissance HealthCare Center, therefore pre-registration is required by July 17. For more information or to register, call Jamie Magee, branch office coordinator, at 302-854-9788.