Obamacare. This federal takeover will worsen the primary care physician shortage that exists today, as 14 million new people become taxpayer funded patients in 2014.
The time to prepare is now. If you want to bypass the long lines for medical rationing or just can’t afford to wait because you’re in too much pain, it’s good to know your health-care options ahead of time and plan accordingly.
Option #1 Cash Only Doctors…
Better Value, Convenient,
and Profitable for Physicians Too
Some doctors do not accept insurance or Medicare. Some may have a hybrid practice where they’ll accept insurance but you have to do the legwork to claim reimbursement. You can find anything from primary care physicians, nurse practitioners, and even surgeons who fit this model.
By eliminating insurance and Medicare from their practice these doctors save on the overhead associated with red tape and pass the savings on to you.
According to Kent Holtorf, M.D., founder of The Holtorf Medical Group and a board examiner for the American Board of Anti-Aging Medicine, “We have found that, almost without exception, laboratories, doctors and other services will happily take 70% less if paid in cash at the time of service. Their costs are increased by that much if they have to bill insurance companies and incur other expenses – plus the risk of denial – in an effort to obtain payment which, if approved, generally arrives 30 to 300 days after initial billing… The cost savings are not in the care but rather the system.”
Cash-only doctors can also afford to spend more time with each patient and focus on their care without interference from bureaucrats or insurance executives, plus they’re free to work as doctors and not as intermediaries between patients and insurance companies.
Washington politicos could learn from this. Dr. Kevin C. Petersen, a general surgeon from Las Vegas and owner of NoInsuranceSurgery.com is able to charge only $5,000 for a hernia repair, which is a third of what other doctors and hospitals charge. Yet, his $2,000 gross profit on a hernia case is about four times more than what Medicare or an insurance company would pay him.
You can look for a cash-only doctor locally on the Internet or through Simple Care.
Option #2 Concierge Medicine:
Membership Has Its Privileges,
Concierge or direct primary care practices use a membership-based approach to comprehensive and preventive care on-demand. In 2005, only about 500 practices followed this structure, today there are more than 5,000.
You pay a monthly fee, sometimes as low as $49, and benefit from unrestricted access to your doctor and use the services as much or as little as you want. Many practices are open seven days a week, offer same-day or next-day appointments, and some memberships include house calls or physicians on call by phone and email around the clock.
Because insurance doesn’t need to cover routine care or chronic illness (hypertension, diabetes, arthritis), patients often save money by combining a less comprehensive insurance plan with high deductible and lower premiums (catastrophic plan).
Doctors save on overhead by eliminating insurance claims, and it also allows them to provide quality service to only a few hundred patients a year – compared to the thousands of patients needed in a high-volume-insurance or Medicare-dependent practice.
This means your office visit isn’t rushed, you don’t waste time in the waiting room, and your appointment can last half an hour or longer directly with your doctor. More time equals better health for you. Seattle-based Qliance Medical Management reports that their patients had 65 percent fewer ER visits and 35 percent fewer hospitalizations compared to benchmark data for their region.
Dr. William Lee, named “Best Family Physician” in the Raleigh-Durham area in 2005, and member of MDVIP concierge network (one of the largest in the country) says of his experience: “I cannot tell you the difference it (health coaching) has made. When I have time to tell patients specifically what to do, and help them set up a plan, and follow their course through the year, I’ve had patients come back losing 20-30 pounds. I’ve been able to take some of them off a number of medications,” said Dr. Lee. “When you have time to deal with the issues, you do better.”
You can find a concierge doctor in your area on the Internet or check out MDVIP
, which is one of the largest networks for concierge practices in the nation
Option #3 Urgent Care Centers:
Shorter Waits and Less Cost Than the ER
With the coming medical reality and 14 million additional people covered by insurance the number one problem you’ll probably face, unless you’re dying, is waiting to be seen by a doctor. If you’re in too much discomfort or pain you can run to your local Urgent Care center. There are approximately 8,700 Urgent Care centers nationwide and they’re easily found online or in your phone book.
According to the Urgent Care Association of America, 57% of patients wait 15 minutes or less to be seen and about 80% of all visits last less than an hour. That beats going to the ER, plus they’re inexpensive too. In addition, many people don’t realize Urgent Care centers have convenient hours and can handle many routine medical concerns from fractures, STDs, flu, vaccinations, annual physicals, and more.
Option #4 Convenient Care Clinics:
Pick Up the Eggs, Milk,
and Get Your Ear Infection Treated
in the Same Store
Convenient care clinics, also called retail clinics, are located inside retail stores, supermarkets, and pharmacies. They’re growing in popularity because of the convenient hours and quick care for routine ailments. They’re staffed by nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and even doctors and treat typical illnesses such the common cold, allergies, infections, flu, and minor injuries. You can get a prescription quickly and take advantage of health screenings, preventative care, or vaccinations while doing the household shopping.
The Convenient Care Association states 1,200 clinics exist today and are projected to grow as high as 3,380 by 2015. You can find a convenient care clinic at select Walgreens, Wal-mart, CVS, Target, and Safeway and Kroger supermarkets.
Option #5 Medical Tourism:
Hop the Border and Get Cured Fast and Cheap
Currently, American medical tourists seek treatments not covered by their insurance or to take advantage of lower costs for dental care and cosmetic surgery.
The cost savings also make medical tourism a feasible alternative for uninsured Americans.
In 2007 an estimated 300,000 American traveled outside the US to seek medical care. But this number is disputed as being too low, because it doesn’t include first or second generation Americans ‘visiting’ family in their home country and conveniently include a medical test or procedure during their trip.
In 2008 health insurance companies such as WellPoint covered overseas medical care.
Many self-insured companies ‘outsource’ expensive medical procedures abroad as a business strategy to keep premium costs down in the U.S.
Interestingly, according to a McKinsey and Company report only 9% of travelers seek lower cost as their primary consideration. The report continues, 40% of medical travelers seek advanced technology, 32% seek better healthcare, and 15% seek faster medical services.
What we may see are Americans looking abroad for quality care at world class centers in India, Thailand, Mexico, or Singapore because they don’t want to wait to receive service; such is the case for many Canadians who come to America for medical treatment despite having universal medical care at home.
For the time being, you can exercise your free choice in medical self-reliance by knowing about and possibly adding the flexible options above. With Obamacare in full effect, let’s hope these surviving particles of free market medicine aren’t squashed or outlawed under the false pretense of fairness.