GHLIT protects patients' rights

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On Oct 7, the House of Representatives passed HR 2723, commonly referred to as the Patient Bill of Rights, by a vote of 275-141. This piece of legislation is intended to give patients a range of new protections when dealing with managed care plans. Eventually, the House and the Senate must agree on legislation protecting patient rights.

The House's Patient Bill of Rights includes the right of patients to appeal to an external review board when their health care plan refuses to pay for medical care. The bill also is intended to provide better coverage for emergency care, offer better access to specialists, and allow patients to go outside the network to be treated by other medical care providers.

The patient empowerment passed by the House in 1999 is something the AVMA Group Health and Life Insurance Trust has done from its inception in 1957.

From the beginning, the GHLIT insurance program has provided insured members the right to appeal underwriting or claim decisions to its board of trustees for a full and fair review. The members of the board of trustees are all veterinarians, ensuring a review of appeals by peers. Their review actually goes beyond the process proposed by Congress.

In addition, when the trustees added managed care features to the medical care coverage offered in the program, it was done in such a way as to leave all decisions on choice of medical care provider to the insured members.

The GHLIT has always placed the interests of insured members above all else, as its fundamental, guiding principle. Operating with that basic principle, the GHLIT program has been a success for more than 40 years, and its success will continue well into the next century.