Minutes | Hiepler & Hiepler
60 Minutes Special on the Problems With HMOs
“Whether young, old, middle-aged, well or sick, if you have to go see your family practitioner and you don’t understand how the financial incentives work between the doctor and the HMO that you’re a part of, you are at risk.” – Attorney Mark Hiepler on 60 Minutes
In this clip from 60 Minutes, attorney Mark Hiepler discusses his representation of Joyce Ching, whose HMO put its own profits before her health. Ms. Ching had gone to her doctor with symptoms, but her doctor failed to perform the necessary tests to rule cancer out as a diagnosis.
This was more than just medical malpractice. Ms. Ching’s doctor had a contract with her HMO, which provided incentives for treating patients quickly and cutting costs on treatment.
As her condition worsened, Ms. Ching and her husband demanded to see a specialist. The specialist immediately had her hospitalized. After several surgeries and rounds of chemotherapy, Ms. Ching passed away from cancer. This could have been prevented had it not been for the initial misdiagnosis by her HMO doctor.
How HMOs Work
Doctors are penalized and fined by the insurance companies for treatment that an HMO finds to be unnecessary. Similarly, doctors are given bonuses for shorter hospital stays and other cost-saving measures.
These types of practices harm patients by cutting back on the treatment and care they need in favor of profits for the HMOs.