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Letters to the editor

editor@vaildaily.com

I have been an insurance agent in this valley for over 11 years. As a consumer of health insurance and a provider of health insurance policies, I have always been keenly aware of the price we pay for living in this valley.Recently I was contacted by a couple of my female clients wondering why they had received enormous bills from the Vail Valley Medical Center for their routine mammograms.By law, your insurance company only has to reimburse $66 per routine mammogram. These woman received bills for approximately $240. The total charge came to $305!As it turns out, the Vail Valley Medical Center in Vail is no longer doing mammograms. They are sending women to the Shaw Cancer Center in Edwards, where they have purchased the latest and greatest digital machine. This has just about tripled the price and they are not notifying woman of this huge increase when they are making their appointments, instead letting them get the big surprise in the mail a short time later.Now I’m sure the administration of the hospital will say that the new digital technology is worth the price and that I’m comparing apples to oranges.However, a local physician more aptly described it as a golden delicious to a red delicious.What is very alarming is that many women will not be able to afford this newer technology thereby foregoing their mammograms completely. I was unable to find a hospital in Denver which had the digital technology. It seemed surprising given the large population that they are dealing with.My perception of VVMC sending women to Shaw is that they are trying to help pay for an overbuilt/underutilized building that was intended to help give more local service to cancer patients, but instead has turned out to be a monument to the egos of a few people responsible for its construction.The generous endowment for its construction and the countless local donations by very generous people to VVMC are not being used well.Unless it is a medical emergency, I for one will never spend $305 on a mammogram when adequate technology is available for less than half the cost. I have, for both myself and my clients, done a survey of hospitals and their charges for mammograms.Living up in the mountains we have all become accustomed to shopping outside our area for goods and services. A mammogram should be no different. Wherever you decide to go, please make sure to ask them if they are on your insurance provider’s network of facilities. If you do not have insurance, Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs has a program that provides mammograms for $25. Please call them for details.These prices are for both the mammogram and the radiologist’s reading: (given to me by radiology, billing & or radiologist offices.)1. Valley View Hospital-Glenwood Springs $1502. Aspen Valley Hospital-Aspen $122.753. Diversified Women’s Center-Denver $159.4. Summit Medical Center $207.5. Rose Medical Center-Denver $159.6. Community Hospital-Grand Junction $ 101. (The hospital estimated the reading, which is included.)This is only a small number of the hospitals that do mammograms. I feel a hospital’s sworn duty should be to service the community in the best way possible. In my mind that means serving the whole community in a way that the whole community can afford.And we wonder why health insurance rates skyrocket every year. When so many millions are spent on real estate and buildings and to feed egos, who else but the insurance companies, and thereby the consumer, will pay the price?It is mismanagement and a violation of the public trust. Please be an educated consumer. There are choices out there!Rhoda SchneidermanGypsumThe hard factsIt’s understandable that a community like Vail would want to provide every possible amenity to its residents and to the residents of nearby communities.But the hard facts are that Vail’s resources are limited and the town’s population represents only about 10 percent of the population of Eagle County. There are recreational facilities that only the county can afford to provide. That includes a gymnastics center, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of.Vail must provide funds for the really critical functions of the town, such as public safety, public finance for redevelopment and improvements to resources that have not kept up, like the library. Caring about the community means that we think with our heads and not our hearts, and that we urge our elected officials to make the hard and smart decisions they were elected to make.Alan KosloffTough teachersWednesday’s story about Michael Cacioppo’s court case against the school district relates how former school board President Tim McMichael claimed retaliation by his kids’ teachers for some actions the school board had taken. He said his fear of further retaliation led him to leave the board, and refuse to answer some questions by Cacioppo’s attorney.Has the school board – or the Vail Daily – looked into this, to determine whether McMichael is telling the truth? If there is a likelihood that he is, what action is the school board taking? What further investigation is the Vail Daily undertaking about such activity?Or isn’t it that important? Like teachers trashing Cacioppo’s Speakout newspaper, or harassing him in restaurants? Just the rough and tumble of politics, I suppose.Terry QuinnEditor’s note: The voters chose Scott Green over McMichael in the fall 2001 school board election. McMichael did not say that he resigned.


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