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My husband and I both have Geisinger Insurance and Geisinger doctors.
The insurance is through my husband's employer. We have subscribed to Geisinger for the past 10 years. We are about a 30 minute drive from the Geisinger Medical Center and Hospital in Danville, PA.
However there are Geisingers clinics throughout parts of PA so that it is not necessary to drive to the Main headquarters to be seen by a Geisinger physician. In the past 3 years, specialists have also opened offices in other areas than Danville.

I will first discuss Geisinger Medical Services. Continued below:

Geisinger Medical Services are all completely computerized and I can access my records, make appointments, request medication refills, check the results of tests, send messages to my doctors and the nurses online.
Each patient can sign up for and set up an account.
This saves phone calls and times. It is very valuable.  The downside is that when you have an appointment with your physician, you cannot  talk except to say Hello until he or she sits down at the computer aand brings up your  information on the screen.   They talk to you facing the computer.  Everything you say, they enter into the computer and type as you are talking. It can be a bit distracting and it takes a while to get used to. It is quite impersonal.

Then the doctor examines you and the doctor does take their time. My experience is that the time with the doctor is less rushed.  If the doctor then prescribes medications or orders tests, that is entered into the computer. When your appointment is over, you pick up your prescription and pay the bill and set up appointments at a Check out Window. I must say it is all run like a machine and it is organized. But like every medical practice, it can be slow when it is busy.

The waiting time to see the doctor once in the exam room is rather long but that seems to be the case with any doctor.  The time in the waiting room however is short.

Geisinger HealthCare, the insurance , the clinics and hospital, are quite organized. And all health records are computerized and specialists can see the tests and medications prescribed by all other Geisinger doctors.  If you use a doctor outside of the system, they can forward the records which are then entered into the computer. So they were pioneers with getting medical records online.  

There is an ease of use by the patient as all information can be accessed online.  And I love the convenience of sending email to the doctor and nurses, requesting appointments, referrals, and medication refills online. If you instead choose to call, you will not receive the same attention and it takes longer and the office staff can be a bit rude.  

The only real problems I have with the Geisinger system ( I will get to the insurance next ) is that when we are ill and having symptoms which require an office visit to a doctor, those appointment are more difficult to get than appointment for preventative tests. They do resist making appointments for patients who are feeling sick, have symptoms of pain or discomfort, and need to see a doctor. A nurse must first call you back and then she emails the doctor, and then calls you back a second time before you get an appointment if you are ill. It does take quite a while if you call feeling very sick and need an appointment.   But they will do this if the patient asks for one and insists on one.
HOWEVER, they will call repeatedly and send a ton of email for routine visits.  They will be very persistent almost to the point of nagging to come in for routine visit. They will push for this and those are easy to get. But if you get an infection, the flu, or have an injury, it can take hours and maybe a day or two to get an appointment only if the doctor approves it first.

Their MAIN focus is Preventative Care.  That would be wonderful if they also showed the same concern for patients who are feeling sick or are in pain.  Bravo to them pushing preventative care to the point where if one resists going for a mammogram or colonoscopy, the doctor will eventually call and insist and read you the riot act if you do not do this if you have the insurance to pay for it. If you have a chronic health problem which is non life threatening, good luck with that as I hear reports all of the time of how they ignore those problems.

The problem becomes those preventative tests which Geisinger insurance does not pay for unless you meet the deductible. It is all out of pocket up to 1000 dollars then 80 percent coverage after that. Thankfully, they do cover 100 pct of the costs and no out of pocket for Pap Smears and Mammograms.  Office visits are just a copay of 25 dollars and no deductible needs to be met. But if a blood test or xray or another test is ordered, that is all out of pocket up to the 1000 dollars and then 80 pct after that.

Geisinger Insurance did not have deductibles and covered every service with just a low copay up until 2008. Then they stopped this plan completely and instituted the Deductibles and the 80-20 system except for office visits, prescriptions, and mammograms and annual ob gyn tests.

I should not complain as almost all of my friends have far worse insurance plans than ours. Geisinger is actually less expensive when compared to other health plans so I do agree with the President about that. We were surprised to discover our premiums and deductible are lower than most health plans.  And it does cover prescriptions with just a 10 dollar copay per medication.

The problem is that for many, including us, 1000 deductible per person, per year is a lot of money.  It is a big financial strain for many of us.   And after reaching 1000 deductible, that 20 percent can be a real hardship when expensive tests or hospitalizations are factored in.

We were betting how long after President Obama praised Geisinger that Geisinger would write this up in a newsletter and send it out. I won the bet as it was less than 2 weeks after the speech.  They boast and brag about that a good deal.

Then suddenly after the President praised Geisinger, they started to call all of the time telling us we needed to have this test or that test and last year, we did not. Suddenly every time we need a medication refill, they are demanding we see that doctor first. Before, they resisted that. I do not know if that is a good thing or not because they still are rather rude when a patient calls and asks for an appointment due to illness or injury.  I called about increased pain of my fibromayalgia. The doctor called back but he wanted to talk about making sure I was getting a mamoogram. I assured him it was scheduled and I have had one every year since I was 40. But he ignored my complaints about my pain. He would not address this at all.  

We get letters from Geisinger Insurance informing patients that Preventative Medicine is their main focus and that we need more and more and more tests. That adds up after a while. Yet they ignore my chronic Fibromyalgia when I want to talk about my pain and discomfort and they wory more about these preventative tests because I am over 50 years old.
I am hearing from very healthy adults that they are being told the same thing and they have all of these preventative tests and all is well, and they are still being nagged to have more and more screeenings.

I think preventative care is great and I applaud Geisinger's persistence.
But they have a habit of ignoring other problems that the patient wants to talk about. They want to just talk prevention. And the insurance company is rude and arrogant as well.

The doctors and staff are not friendly and very business like.  So it is run like a well oiled machine but it has a robotic feel. I do not recommend Geisinger if you want a caring and compassionate doctor and a polite staff and nurses.

Like every insurance,  the premiums increase dramatically each year as do the deductibles. So Geisinger is NOT the answer to the healthcare crisis. Geisinger may be less expensive than some insurances but it is still expensive and their rates continue to increase dramatically.

Also, there are no choices in my area. Nearly every employer only offers Geisinger Insurance with no other alternatives. I used to think it was one of the best health plans but these new deductibles and the new forms or coverage plus the doctors now pushing for more and more expensive testing as newly implemented prevention measures is taking its toll on our finances as well as our energy level. If they had their way, we would be seeing a doctor or having a medical test 20 times per year.

There is hell to pay if you put off having a test because you have not met the deductible and you cannot afford it. You will receive harsh lectures from the doctor and staff about how they will not refill your medications or help you out until you have that test.

Anyway, this is my experience and my feelings about Geisinger Health Insurance and Geisinger Health System and care.

Originally posted to wishingwell on Thu Oct 22, 2009 at 06:47 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  All those preventative tests are nice (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lupin, marina, Bob B, greengemini

    but with a 20% copay, I'd still have to forgo treatment if they found anything. Again, one must be reasonably well off to make use of most health insurance plans.

    The weak in courage is strong in cunning-William Blake

    by beltane on Thu Oct 22, 2009 at 06:56:08 AM PDT

  •  Interesting. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    historys mysteries, marina

    I wonder if there any West Coasters who can tell us about Kaiser Permanente?

    Also, if there's anybody in Ohio: Does Cleveland Clinic have insurance too?

    •  No, it doesn't (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      No, the Cleveland Clinic doesn't have its own health plan, but it works very closely with Kaiser Permanente's Ohio division.  With (Case Western Reserve) University Hospitals also in Cleveland, folks in that town are very, very lucky to have world class delivery systems available to them.

      Now, if only the insurers in that town were as good.  Kaiser is good, but the two market leaders by enrollment are Medical Mutual of Ohio and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield.  Medical Mutual is OK, but Anthem is part of the for-profit, publicly traded WellPoint monolith, which, among other things, has had massive computer issues dating back to the Anthem-WellPoint merger in 2005, resulting in iffy customer service and furious doctors.

      Fortunately, the strength of the hospital systems in Cleveland seems to keep the insurers in line.  You really shouldn't experience much trouble in getting needed care, though YMMV.

    •  Kaiser Permanente (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      historys mysteries

      I worked there and my spouse an I have been members for 35 and 20 years respectively. KP is a not for profit hospital and medical office chain in 12 states. They have a mutually exclusive partnership with a private, for profit, physician group, the Permanente Group. With rare exceptions, the two sides, Ins/HMO and the salaried Docs are autonomous. Around 9 million members, most in a Ca.

      The key characteristic, like Geisinnger, is that KP practices integrative medicine from cradle-to-grave, head-to-toe, soup-to-nuts...focus is also on wellness and preventive medicine.

      All online EMR, online medicine, prescription refill requests which are then mailed, char w/ doc, same day lab results. I love that part, and no problem getting same day appts, labs, mammograms, etc. where I live. In LA it took 24 hours usually.  

      Cost was cheap when they had no competition for 50 years and they "made" many of their own supplies. Now the marketplace is filled with aggressive competitors and the costs of supplies, drugs, etc. are in an upwards spiral which means way higher than most cost increases. I went from 0 cost, 0 copays, 0 deduct. as an employee to $500/m for 2, 0 copays, 0deduct. on COBRA, to $1500/m for 2, $10copay, post-COBRA.

      Soon, cost will force me to drop it and go uninsured. If we had single payer, nothing would change about KP but where I send my check and hopefully the size of it.

      HR 676 - Health care reform we can believe in - national single-payer NOW.

      by kck on Thu Oct 22, 2009 at 08:33:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I don't like Geisinger (4+ / 0-)

    They refused to admit my mom when she was having a stroke. The doctor in charge of the ER stood laughing it up with a guy who'd cut his finger, just a few feet away.

  •  Interesting.Does your insurance have (0+ / 0-)

    a max for your out of pocket costs per year? lifetime?

    "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

    by tardis10 on Thu Oct 22, 2009 at 07:21:32 AM PDT

  •  wouldn't that be socialist? (0+ / 0-)

    They have the plan / terms and the doctors?

    Takin it to the streets....Doobie Brothers

    by totallynext on Thu Oct 22, 2009 at 07:26:15 AM PDT

  •  Believe it or not but around here getting (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    historys mysteries, marina, susanala

    an appointment for being sick in 48 hours would be a godsend.  Most general practitioners are booked solid and it takes at least a week (or longer) to get a sick visit.  By that time many are no longer sick or have gone to ER instead.  Consider yourself lucky in that regard.

    There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why... I dream of things that never were, and ask why not? - Robert Kennedy

    by choochmac on Thu Oct 22, 2009 at 07:33:30 AM PDT

  •  tests (3+ / 0-)

    This testing "craze" has spread into private practice groups. I believe a lot of patients are experiencing L.O.S.T. (Let's Order Some Tests) syndrome - so many, in fact, I've begun thing of them as The Legion of the LOST.

    Sometimes the physician ordering the tests has a financial interest in the testing facility; and,other times it may be the insurer that has its beak dipped into those lucrative waters.

  •  I have family in central Pa., (3+ / 0-)

    so I was pleased when I heard the President's praise of Geisinger. I must admit a pro-Geisinger bias, as their cardio team literally saved my sister's life a few years ago, when she had a heart attack (at age 43).   Her husband is a county employee and his insurance (not sure what company) covered everthing- their out of pocket expenses were almost nil.  

    Having said that, I agree that what you have described does not sound very praise-worthy. A $1000 deductable is  a lot of money, and on top of that they are nagging you about preventative care, that you can't afford because of the deductable ?  Crazyness, that.  

    Thanks for an eye-opening diary.  

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