Sandy Praeger knows that change is coming as a result of the federal Affordable Care Act that goes into effect next year.
Praeger, the Kansas Insurance Commissioner, talked Friday, May 10, at a membership meeting of the Fairfax Industrial Association at the Fairfax Drainage District office.
She said one of the most significant changes would be from fee-based procedures to value-based procedures. This will save money, as it will help eliminate unnecessary procedures.
To illustrate this, she offered a story concerning her husband, Dr. Mark Praeger, a surgeon in Lawrence, Kan. She said he was on duty one weekend when there were three persons who came down with appendicitis.
She said that the hospital required that such patients undergo computed axial tomogrqphy scans. Her husband, however, because of his medical experience, knew the patients had appendicitis and didn’t order the scans. Hospitals order scans because they are reimbursed $300 each, she said.
Praeger said today those who have insurance are paying for those who do not. Often those without insurance who do not have regular health care become very ill and end up at hospital emergency rooms. Hospitals cannot refuse to treat these, according to federal law.
The new law will attempt to provide insurance to all Kansans not covered.
She said one of her everyday duties as insurance commissioner is educating consumers about the new law similar to what was done when the federal Medicare Part D drug program was implemented.
Praeger said regardless of what critics may say about the law, it is a reality and people need to prepare for it.
“We believe we can provide accurate information to help Kansans make informed choices,” she said. Enrollment for the new program will begin Oct. 1. More information can be learned by visiting the website www.ksinsurance.org.
Praeger was first elected insurance commissioner in 2006 and re-elected in 2010. She served in the Kansas Senate and House of Representatives and was also a Lawrence mayor and city commissioner. She was president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners in 2006. She and her husband live in Lawrence; they have two adult children and three grandchildren.
Murrel Bland is the former editor of The Wyandotte West and The Piper Press. He is the executive director of Business West.