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Aetna Issues Press Release Relative to Fire Victims in California–We Care But Try to Stay In Network And Update Your PHR I

Posted Jul 31 2010 12:03pm

Overall the company is trying to get the information out to those who may have been image affected by the horrible fire near Palmdale that is still raging on, and the numbers of helpful by all means, but you can’t help not to miss the area where they are discussing “re-evaluating medical and dental policies” here.  We know everyone is keeping costs down to a minimum but somehow as I read this there seems to be a lack of sincerity and the between the lines read here says, we are watching our pocketbooks with as much emphasis.

If you mail in your prescriptions, they want to ensure that an alternative “in network” replacement is set up right away and by using their “intelligence algorithms” they are able to provide this information to members, algorithms for emergency care.  In addition if members have been evacuated and are at a shelter, they advise to take advantage of this time and get your personal health record setup.  All of this is perhaps not a bad idea but when you read the press release some of this all combined together takes away from the “caring” side of humans and the underlying message comes across relating to costs.  You can read the press release and form your own opinion.  In the news this week it was announced that Aetna had a big increase in profits and signed a new contract with CVS for pharmacy benefit image management on prescriptions. 

In other Aetna news the announcement was made stating they will stop offering small group insurance in the state of Michigan after February 1st of next year, and the article said this was in the best interest of their customers.  The article continues on to say the membership in this area is not large enough and thus in case of a catastrophe like maybe a fire, they could not cover. 

I am also a big advocate of PHRs and have an entire section here on the blog with over 300 posts, but again I like to recommend one that is not maintained by an insurance company. You could sign up, take what claim and other information they may have and then transfer to another PHR not connected with an insurance company to ensure your privacy and you can do that with HealthVault. 

Back in October of 2007 the CEO of Aetna called HealthVault and Google Health “vaporware and today they work and connect data for those patients who prefer privacy with their own choices. 

Back to the situation at hand, below is the press release that contains emergency contact information and phone numbers and again it appears cost on the wording of this press release seems to take a big bite out of the “caring” side, which is what is wrong with health insurance companies today in the way announcements are conveyed to the public, as even investors are premium holders, right?  BD 

Press Release:

HARTFORD, Conn., Jul 30, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- ( AET 27.85, +0.36, +1.31%) is making it easier for members impacted by the wildfires burning in Kern County and Northern Los Angeles County to refill prescriptions and access employee assistance and behavioral health programs. The company is monitoring the situation carefully, and will re-evaluate its medical and dental policies for members as necessary to help them access care in the fire-impacted areas in Southern California where many people face evacuations from their homes.

Aetna members who need help in finding care or have lost or left their ID cards behind in an evacuation can reach Aetna at the following toll-free numbers:

-- Aetna Member Services: 1-800-443-AETNA (1-800-443-2386)

-- Aetna Specialty Pharmacy Customer Service: 1-866-782-ASRX (1-866-782-2779)

-- Aetna Pharmacy Home Delivery Customer Service: 1-866-612-3862 or 1-800-227-5720

-- Aetna Employee Assistance Program: 1-888-AETNA-EAP (1-888-238-6232)

-- Aetna Dental: 1-877-238-6200

-- For physicians who have questions: 1-800-MDAETNA (1-800-632-3862)

* Replacement ID cards and access to a Personal Health Record (PHR) can be accessed on Aetna Navigator(TM) found here: http://www.aetna.com/index.htm

"Our deepest concern and sympathies go out to those people in Southern California who have been impacted by the wildfires," said Aetna Chairman and CEO Ronald A. Williams. "Our focus is on helping our members get the care they need, knowing that they may not be able to use their usual pharmacies, physicians and hospitals due to evacuations."

Aetna members in areas affected by the wildfires may refill their prescriptions early, if needed, and those who use Aetna's mail-order pharmacy can receive a prescription at an alternate delivery location or refill a prescription that may have been lost, damaged or destroyed by fire.

Aetna Behavioral Health is offering its Employee Assistance Program resources to all Aetna plan sponsors, regardless of whether or not they are Aetna EAP customers, during this time of need. Aetna members can contact Aetna EAP 24/7 for telephonic consultation, referrals or general information such as areas affected by the wildfires, shelters and government resources.

Aetna's EAP professionals have experience dealing with traumatic events and are available to help. Consultation and other support are available for plan sponsors as they welcome employees back to work.

Impacted Aetna members can seek urgent or emergency care anywhere, as needed. Aetna is monitoring the impact of the wildfires on its network providers and working closely with its participating network providers, and will make further modifications to its policies as necessary to ensure members have access to care. Aetna will also adjust its policies to comply with any local, state or federal disaster executive orders or regulations issued related to these catastrophic events.

Aetna urges its members that have been evacuated to set up or update their health information in a Personal Health Record (PHR) for themselves and their family members. The information in the PHR is available 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week, anywhere an Internet connection is available -- making it an important resource for those people who have had to evacuate during an emergency, like wildfires. Aetna members who have access to the PHR can print it out or share it with their physician online. A Personal Health Record (PHR) can be accessed on Aetna Navigator(TM) http://www.aetna.com/index.htm .

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