Thursday, May 30, 2013
That's how I remember medicine
I was heartened to read of a doctor in Maine who's stopped taking medical insurance, and is operating a cash-only practice. He posts his fees online, and those who want to claim back their expenses from their medical insurers have to do the paperwork themselves. His prices are half what they used to be, he saves a bundle on administrative overhead, and he says he's "freed up to do what I think is right for the patients".
Frankly, I don't know why many other doctors haven't already done this. I remember this sort of medical practice as a child. My parents used a family doctor who had a small suite of three rooms above a suburban shop. They were cream and dark brown in color and decor, redolent with the atmosphere of multi-colored medical solutions in tall glass jars (the sort of thing no-one uses these days). Dr. Goldberg always had a box full of miniature bars of chocolate for kids who were "good" while he took their temperature, or applied a dressing, or (if worst came to worst) gave them an injection of some kind. He always seemed older than God to me, a jolly man, always smiling or laughing. Mom or Dad would pay him directly, either on the spot or on receipt of his monthly bill, and then claim what costs were covered from their medical insurance. There was no nonsense about 'assembly-line medicine', where one was shunted from nurse to lab worker to physician's assistant - it was see the doctor himself, every time.
I'd gladly switch to a practice like Dr. Ciampi's if there was one available nearby. I reckon I'd save a bundle, and I don't mind sending in my bills once a month to my own insurer for reimbursement. Frankly, I think if everybody did that, a great deal of the waste and fraudulent overbilling that's rampant in the US medical system would be wiped out overnight!