Will Cash-Only Medical Practices Become The Norm?

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Another unintended consequence of ObamaCare is making itself known as more doctors are bailing out of traditional medical practices and moving to concierge medicine. (This isn't unexpected to me as I've been hearing about physicians making the decision to refuse all medical insurance and taking cash only.)

There are so many advantages for doctors to switch to cash only practices and few disadvantages. Two of the biggest advantages? Lower cost health care because it costs less to provide. The usual overhead associated with the regular medical practices doesn't exist in cash-only practices. Hence, it costs less to provide the same, if not better care.

Under direct primary care, doctors contract directly with patients to provide all of their primary care needs free of insurance interference at a price generally between $50 and $60 a month per patient.

"It's not just for the rich and famous anymore," Merritt Hawkins' Smith said of concierge medicine and direct primary care practices. "If you can afford a gym membership, you can afford this kind of care."

The direct primary care approach provides unlimited visits to a physician's office plus 24-hour access to doctors through e-mail consultations. The primary care model has drawn insurance industry opposition in part because the health insurer middleman is cut out of the equation as doctors are no longer paid by the likes of Aetna, Humana or a United Health Group.

Looking at the numbers, I would prefer to pay a concierge practice for my health care and keep insurance for catastrophic care. The fact that the insurance industry is opposed to such a system makes it clear to me that they don't want the competition, making concierge service that much more attractive. After all, the insurers won't get their 'cut' of the money we pay for health care, something to which it appears they feel entitled.

If nothing else the economics of cash-only medical practices prove that one of the major driving forces causing health care costs to skyrocket has been health insurance, something I've been saying for years.

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2 Comments

I ask my primary care physician if he knew how much a physical actually costs and he admitted he didn't know. I knew how much the insurance company is charged for my physical ($297). The next time I saw him - a couple of months later for a chronic condition - he told me he'd looked into it and was surprised to find out how little the actual physical costs - about $35. The rest was all overhead, much of it for the insurance. Just wait until ObamaCare fully kicks in!

Our chiropracter hasn't taken any kind of insurance for years. He also no longer takes credit cards or debit cards - cash or check only. However, in the 25 years we have gone there, he has only raised his prices from a start of $35 to now at $50.

About 4 years ago, my chiro couldn't see me for a couple of weeks (he is alwasy well booked - even in this small town), so I went to someone else. Sure, it only cost me my $20 co-pay, but the insurance was charged $135.

Big difference there!

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