Will More Doctors Dump Insurance Companies?

I like this idea: Doctors Dump Insurance Plans, Charge Patience Less.

Thirty-two-year old family physician Doug Nunamaker of Wichita, Kan., said after five years of dealing with the red tape of health insurance companies and the high overhead for the staff he hired just to deal with paperwork, he switched to a system of charging his patients a monthly fee plus the price of an office visit or test, CNN/Money reported.

For example, under Nunamaker’s membership plan — also known as “concierge” medicine or “direct primary care” practices — each patient pays a flat monthly fee to have unlimited access to the doctors and any medical service they can provide in the practice, such as stitches or an EKG.

For adults up to age 44, Nunamaker charges $50 a month, pediatric services are $10 a month, and for adults age 44 and older it costs $100 a month. Although Nunamaker calls the practice “cash-only,” he accepts credit and debit cards for the fees and services.

I have always thought that insurance was the reason health care was so expensive. If we could somehow cut out all the red tape, then prices could be lower. Looks like doctors are finally figuring it out.

Couple something like this with a proactive approach to health care (diet and exercise),it could be the formula of the future.

5 thoughts on “Will More Doctors Dump Insurance Companies?”

  1. Monthly fee, no thanks — If I’m gonna pay a monthly fee it might as well be towards a real insurance plan (with real max out-of-pockets) and I pick whichever doctor I want.

    “…he switched to a system of charging his patients a monthly fee plus the price of an office visit or test….”

    Nice — do less work for the same pay.

    “Nunamaker and his partner negotiated deals for services outside the office. A cholesterol test costs the patient for $3, versus the $90 or more billed to insurance companies; an MRI can cost $400, compared with $2,000 or more billed to insurance companies.”

    So now we see the problem — who is bilking who?

    Sure sounds like the medical providers are screwing over the medical insurers — and yes, I’m sure the medical insurers are screwing over the policy holders (us).

  2. What makes cost so high is that doctors are given a grant of monopoly (AKA given licenses which bar competition). Insurance is a symptom rather than the root cause of the high prices.

  3. I recall similar programs being shut down by the government as they classified them as “Insurance” and the doctors offering them were not licensed insurance companies. It will be interesting to see if it grows or if it gets shut down as well.

    As to the amount billed to insurance companies, that is just a numbers game. For example, if the insurance company is billed $2,000 for an MRI, they will have a negotiated price of $400 that they will pay to the provider. The prices are inflated just so that they can be reduced to the actual level. So the only ones who end up paying $2,000 for an MRI are the uninsured. Go figure…

  4. The easiest way to cut insurance expense is to have a single payer. That’s what Medicare is and it works pretty well at low administrative costs. Also, why doesn’t the government negotiate prices for the drugs that it buys? Must be the pharma lobby.

  5. The reason why medical insurance is so expensive and that doctors like this one don’t want to deal with it anymore is because we don’t have pure insurance.

    It used to be that all you had was something called “Major Medical” that would pay for unexpected catastrophic occurances. Your doctors visits would be paid for out-of-pocket. Only certain diagnostic tests were paid for. Prescription medications were not paid for. Hospital stays beyond a certain length were paid for. Emergency room visits were paid for.

    As time went on, medical insurance added a “buyer’s club” component. Maintenance doctor visits and maintenance prescriptions were added. Pregnancy and childbirth coverage were mandated.

    Naturally, all these added benefits make insurance more expensive for everyone. Group insurance can’t deny someone with a prior condition, so that costs more for everyone.

    People who want to get back to basics can opt for a high-deductible plan where they pay for everything using tax-free money below a certain deductible. This tax-free money can be rolled over each year, and can even be used for retirement as tax-deferred, like an IRA.

Comments are closed.