November 16, 2019

Access to Your Medical Records: You are Entitled to Receive a Copy of Your Medical Records. It’s the Law.

Patient Access to Medical Records
HIPPA


Access to your medical records:  Know your rights!

So this autumn, I’ve had a mind numbing, time wasting, stressful, and beyond frustrating experience dealing with a new specialist doctor.  A doctor who, as I learned after immediately experiencing insurance billing and many other problems with the doctor’s practice, is not a member of John Muir Medical Group.  John Muir otherwise provides all of our primary, other specialty, urgent, emergency, and hospitalization care.

I’ll just say one thing:  If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, don’t ever … ever … EVER … get care from any physician or facility associated with Hills Physicians Medical Group in San Ramon, California.  Which brings me to the topic of this blog post, one of likely several I’ll have from my dealings with this organization:  A Patient’s Access to His or Her Medical Records.

The doctor we were referred to, a Gastroenterologist located in Pleasant Hill, CA, and Brentwood, CA, has an office with procedures that do not comply with HIPPA.  The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPPA, is a federal health care law originally signed into law on August 21, 1996 and revised a number of times since then.  It is a positive and much needed law for the health care consumer.  Among other things, HIPPA strengthened privacy laws related to patient health records, and provided that a patient has a legal right to his or her medical records.

Anyhoo, dealing with this new physician, we were able to quickly get an appointment for an initial consultation, followed by one of two tests/procedures that were required.  The initial consultation went fine.  And then, well, everything else went downhill faster than an Alpine skier on an icy course.  Or maybe a turd rolling downhill.

Shortly after the initial consultation, a test was performed in the physician’s office.  We waited for a few days to get a phone call with the test results.  Nothing.  I checked our very handy and thorough electronic chart on the John Muir Health Care website.  Nothing.  That’s when I learned that the physician was not affiliated with John Muir, but rather Hills Physicians Medical Group.  A Medical Group so outdated in technology that it does not have a website enabling patients to create an account and have access to all medical records, test results,  appointment notes/information, appointment reminders, as well as a secure email-like system for communication with any doctors and their staff.  John Muir has all of this, and it works great!

So, after a couple of weeks went by, growing ever anxious, we contacted the new physician’s office, and requested a copy of the test results.  We also requested the results via email.  What were we told?  Well, we were told that we had to make an appointment with the doctor so that he could go over the test results, that otherwise nothing would be released to us.  In other words, just another appointment so the doctor can bill.  When we informed the staff person that patient records were required by law to be released to the patient, the staff person told us “it is not our policy” to do that.

When we informed the staff person that their “policy” was in violation of HIPPA rules, her response was that she would send a message to the doctor.  The doctor did call us back and informed us that the test results were negative.  But we’ve never received the written copy of the test results we requested multiple times.  And for a medical test completed and paid for.

So here’s the deal:  Patients, and a patient’ authorized representative, are entitled by law to receive a copy of their medical records.  (With one exception to the health care records:  a mental health care professional may withhold his or her notes if the professional feels providing the notes to the patient or the patient’s designated representative,  would be harmful to the patient.)  As previously mentioned, this federal law has been on the books since HIPPA was signed into law back in 1996, some 23 years ago.  The law further states that the physician cannot charge a ‘handling’ or ‘processing’ fee for providing the records, only ‘reasonable’ copy charges.  A patient also has a right to review his/her original medical file.  This review is usually done at the location the records are stored, such as the doctor’s office.

Simply put, it is beyond sad that a board certified physician's office is out of compliance with a 23 year old law.

Timeframe?  The physician must release a copy of medical records, or permit review of original medical records, within 30 days.  If longer than 30 days is needed, the physician must provide the patient with the reason for the delay, and the records must be released/review permitted within 60 days.

Any consequences for refusal to release patient medical records?  You betchya.  And the minimum fine for willful violations of HIPPA rules is $50,000.

So know your rights when it comes to your medical records and HIPPA.  Don’t be denied what is legally yours simply because of a doctor’s office illegal “policy”.

Health Insurance Concerns?
Concerned about Tax, Insurance, Annuity, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, Annuity Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

November 13, 2019

Healthier Eating and Living: Add Dark Leafy Greens to Your Diet for a Low Calorie, Yummy, and Very Nutritious Food!

Dark Leafy Greens


Adding delicious - and low calorie - nutrition to your diet is easy by incorporating dark leafy greens into your diet.  Yes, I still enjoy iceberg lettuce and butter lettuce, but include dark leafy greens in my diet each day.  And remember:  the darker the green, the more nutritious it is.

Dark leafy greens can be eaten raw, sauteed/stir fried, or incorporated into cooked and baked dishes including soups, pasta sauces, and pizzas.  An excellent source of dark leafy greens in many varieties is organicgirl triple washed greens that come in recyclable  clamshells.  Oh, and organicgirl also has more traditional lettuce mixes, including butter lettuce.  Check out the organicgirl website here.  Their website also includes great recipes.

I always have 2 different varieties of organicgirl dark leafy greens in my refrigerator.  Right now, it's organicgirl Baby Arugula and their Protein Greens.  Take a look at the Nutrition  Info for Protein Greens ... wow!

Credit: iloveorganicgirl.com

Credit:  iloveorganicgirl.com
I will be posting some easy cooking and baking times for adding dark leafy greens to your diet.  In the meantime, try some today.  And remember:  simply adding some dark leafy greens to your usual lettuce salad will add delicious flavor and nutrition.  Easy healthier eating and living!

Concerned about Tax, Insurance, Annuity, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, Annuity Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

November 10, 2019

Happy 7th Birthday Lexi!

💖  Lexi  💖

Lexi the Dog


A belated Happy Birthday to my Faithful Canine Princess and Loyal Companion, Lexi, who turned a wonderful 7 years old last month.

Lexi is nothing of the very skinny, thin furred, and terrified of everything dog we adopted from the Antioch Animal Shelter in October 2014.  Lexi transformed into a healthy, confident, furball of a dog.  A Forever Faithful and Loyal Canine Companion.

Thank you for adding so much to our lives, Lexi.  Love you bunches, my Chow Chow-Pomeranian mix Canine Princess!

Concerned about Tax, Insurance, Annuity, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, Annuity Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

November 7, 2019

Fire Safety: Smoke Detectors Save Lives. Make Sure You Have Them, And That They Work.

Smoke Detectors


Last year, I wrote about a horrific fire in Chicago in which 10 children were killed.

The fire started in an enclosed porch at the rear of the building.  It has been called the deadliest Chicago fire in more than a decade.

And working smoke detectors?  None found.

According to Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives spokesperson Larry Langford, the deaths and injuries could have been avoided if working smoke detectors had been in use:
"It was not hard to get out. The fire started in the rear, and the entryway to the front was wide open," Langford said. "Had they been awake or if someone had woken them, they would have gotten out."
In other words, the children would not have died in the fire had there been working smoke detectors in the home.

During a fire, a person can become unconscious and die from smoke inhalation in as little as 2 minutes.  2 minutes!  This is one life saving issue I counsel clients on when I review residential and business fire insurance.  Make sure your home and business has working smoke detectors.  If battery powered, change the batteries every 6 months.  Replace smoke detector units every 10 years, or sooner if they malfunction.

Smoke detectors.  Inexpensive and life saving.

Protect yourself and your loved ones by having working smoke detectors and adequate Fire Insurance Coverage. 

Concerned about Tax, Insurance, Annuity, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, Annuity Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

November 4, 2019

Fire Insurance: Do You Have Adequate Fire Insurance Coverage?

Fire Insurance


Wildfires are once again present, large and small, in both Northern and Southern California.  Anyone can be affected by these devastating events, and people simply must plan accordingly.  The Kincaid Fire in Sonoma County, California necessitated the mandatory evacuation of nearly 200,000 people.

And all this while at the same time PG&E, California's largest utility provider, shutoff electricity to many millions of people in Northern and Central California in 4 different mass "safety" power outages during October.  Some people - homes and businesses - were or have been without electricity for nearly an entire week.  Also, natural gas was shut off to many areas in Sonoma County given the Kincaid Fire.

In other words, misery upon misery.

Which all brings me to the topic of this post:  Do you have adequate Fire Insurance for your home, business, or rental property?

When is the last time you reviewed your Fire Insurance Coverage to ascertain you have adequate coverage in the event of a fire?

Fire Insurance Coverage should be periodically reviewed to ascertain you have adequate coverage in the event of losses in a fire.  The ideal time for reviewing coverage is when you receive your annual insurance policy renewal information.  Also, coverage should be reviewed if you make substantial changes to your property, including construction such as remodel and addition work.

Mary Rae Fouts, EA has 31 years of insurance industry experience.  Through her Insurance Consulting Services, Mary provides risk analysis and insurance coverage recommendations, including for Fire Insurance Coverage for homes, businesses, and rental properties.  To learn more about these services visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Concerned about Tax, Insurance, Annuity, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, Annuity Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

November 1, 2019

Roast Turkey: Thanksgiving is Coming up. Here is How to Make Easy and Beyond Delicious Slow Roast Turkey.

Slow Roast Turkey

Easy to Make
Fall-Off-the-Bone Tender
Delicious and Flavorful
Economical
Plenty of Leftovers ("Reruns") for Future Meals
Good All Year Round - Not Just at Thanksgiving!

17-pound Diestel turkey ready to go in the oven!


All done after slow roasting for about 9 1/2 hours!


Recipe?  Check out my previous blog about roast turkey for the easy, no fail recipe.  For fruits, veggies, and herbs, this roast chicken had plenty of onion, celery, orange, lime, and fresh garden herbs including sage, bay leaf, flat leaf parsley, marjoram, and rosemary.

Make a roast turkey soon and look forward to easy, comfort food meals with the leftovers:  club sandwiches on sourdough bread, hearty "stoups" using the roast turkey au jus, BBQ turkey sandwiches on buns, turkey tacos or turkey and bean enchiladas, and chef dinner salads.  Delicious and nutritious comfort food and its finest.

Plus, your kitchen area will smell absolutely divine with the wonderful buttery aroma as the turkey slowly roasts.  The above photos are from our last Christmas turkey, but we eat turkey all year round:  whole roast turkey, roast bone-in turkey breast, boneless turkey cutlets, ground turkey burgers, and freshly-sliced turkey/smoked turkey from the my grocer Lunardi's deli.

Roast turkey:  it's not just for Thanksgiving anymore.  Perfect anytime of the year.

Concerned about Tax, Insurance, Annuity, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, Annuity Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts