Health Care: June 2011 Archives

I can see that we have yet another "I don't take any kind of health insurance" medical practice that appears to be doing well.

A doctor in Minnesota has borrowed a page from other doctors around the US that have abandoned the endlessly more complicated (and expensive) system of health insurance covered health care. Instead all she will accept is cash, checks, and foodstuffs.

It's amazing how much costs go down when you no longer have to deal with the paperwork and regulations imposed by health insurance companies and the government if a medical practice accepts health insurance (and particularly Medicare and Medicaid).

As Minnesota Public Radio reports, Dr. Susan Rutten Wasson finds she's doing just fine without all the extra dross that comes with accepting medical insurance.

It's more a scene from the days of frontier medicine than from the modern health care system. And that's because Rutten Wasson, 42, is a throwback to a time before HMOs, electronic health records and hospitals with fountains in their lobbies. She sees patients the same day they call if she's not booked up, spends at least a half-hour per visit -- compared to the more typical 15 minutes -- and usually charges only $50 for a consultation. She takes cash or check, but no insurance -- and sometimes accepts gratuities of a dozen fresh eggs or a pie.

--snip--

In an era of high overhead, ever more byzantine regulations and payment models, cuts to Medicaid and Medicare benefits, and large medical systems swallowing independent practices, Rutten Wasson relishes her straight-forward manner of practicing. Since many federal health care reforms -- such as those requiring electronic medical records -- are tied to Medicare, they tend not to apply to her.

As she says, not having to deal with the insurance is a big time saver, allowing her more time to actually spend with patients, something that is becoming more important as even with more sophisticated medical technology at our beck and call, doctors still need to talk with patients and get to know them in order to do a better job diagnosing and treating them.

"Factory" medical clinics that so many of us go to are more like an assembly line, with doctors rushing about, seeing them for the minimum amount of time possible, before rushing out to see the next one. It isn't uncommon for some physicians to see as many as 40 patients in a day, meaning they can't possibly give the time and attention some patients need in order to be treated properly for their medical conditions. If you miss an appointment don't count on getting another one for months. I had to reschedule my annual physical due to a schedule conflict. That was three months ago and they still haven't been able to tell me when I'll be able to get another appointment. If I had to guess, it won't be until next year. And if I'm actually sick, they might be able to squeeze me in in two or three weeks.

Think I'm kidding?

After our return from a week's vacation in Florida two years ago, I came down with a bad case of bronchitis which swiftly turned into pneumonia. I called my doctor's office and they said they might be able to see me in week. It got so bad I ended up at our local hospital's ER. The physician there said I probably wouldn't have lasted long enough to see my own doctor. It took a lot of antibiotics and another week before I was well enough to return to work.

But if I had a doctor like Dr. Susan Rutten Wasson, chances are she would have come to my home, examined me, and written a prescription for what I needed, as well as make a follow up visit a couple of days later. I don't see anything like that happening under the present system or ObamaCare. Do you?

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