Where did my doctor go?

Dr. Weeks’ Comment: Over the years, I have helped many doctors to leave third-party contracts to create a concierge practice where they are paid directly by their patients. Why would a doctor willingly forgo the benefit of indiscriminate, uncritical reimbursement from the seemingly infinite cash cow which has been third-party payers and rely instead upon the actual patient for income?  Quite simply because it works better for all parties involved.

This is the only workable path forward for health care reform: allow the patient to pay as the informed consumer because only the patient has the ability to hold both the doctor and the system accountable. Recently, a patient in the local hospital “paid” $170 for a hand-held plastic urine container. I say “paid” because he bought it and used it but of course, this exorbitant price was really acceptable only to the insurance  company whose use of money baffles all economists – save for the fact that these Big Insurance companies are making record profits. Indeed they are making a killing – but at the same time, killing our heath care system.  The ocean liner of health care reform in general and Obamacare in particular is undeniably careening towards icebergs so, 20 years ago, I launched my life boat of corrective health – a concierge care system where we offer innovative treatment options which differ from the standard of care quite simply by being superior. My thousands of patients who fled the opulent, yet doomed ocean liner with me in our lifeboat have received consistently superior care and are grateful. I myself have been paid a fair wage and indeed have been pleased to be able to give away a substantial percentage of care over the years – a generous instinct of doctors now rendered extinct by insurance third party payers who consider the humanitarian act of giving free care to be an unfair undermining of the competition.

Now,  dear reader, if you are some doctor’s patient, look around. He or she might be about to abandon ship. Health care is about to become every one for himself.  See article from Forbes magazine below.

If you want to find a doctor who I have taught to navigate a mutually beneficial corrective care life boat where you too can get excellent care and work with a doctor whose sole priority is your health, call us at 360-341-2313 or email info@alternativehealthadvicates.com.  We’ll help you stay safe and dry and deliver you to your destination.

1 In 10 Doctor Practices Flee Medicare To Concierge Medicine

Nearly 10 percent of doctor practice owners will embrace direct pay or “concierge” practices in the next three years, according to a new study by physician staffing company Merritt Hawkins for The Physicians Foundation. Doctors worry about cuts in Medicare payment and the end of fee-for-service medicine.

As Medicare whacks away at what doctors are paid and health insurers move away from paying fees for service to bundled payments, more physicians who own their own practices will start direct pay or concierge medicine in the next one to three years.

New data from a national survey of nearly 14,000 physicians conducted by physician staffing firm Merritt Hawkins for The Physicians Foundation, analyzing 2012 practice patterns, found that 9.6 percent of “practice owners” were planning to convert to concierge practices in the next one to three years.

The movement is across all medical disciplines with 6.8 percent of all physicians planning to stop taking insurance in favor of concierge-style medicine or so-called “direct primary care.”

“Physicians have been running for cover for several years now,” said Mark Smith, president of Merritt Hawkins. “There is a lot of uncertainty in health care now and the only certainty is there is a lot of talk about cutting physicians fees. One way to get out of it is to go off the grid.”

The data release comes less than a month after Congress waited until the 11th hour to avoid the fiscal cliff as well as the so-called “doc fix” on Medicare payments. Even though a cut of nearly 27 percent in Medicare payments to doctors was avoided, doctors remain upset at the lack of a permanent solution for dramatic cuts to doctor payments from the Medicare health insurance program for the elderly under the sustainable growth rate formula also known as “SGR.”

Already, one in five physicians is restricting the number of Medicare patients in their practice and one in three primary care doctors – the providers on the front lines of keeping the cost of seniors’ care low – are restricting Medicare patients, according to a 2010 AMA survey of more than 9,000 physicianswho care for Medicare patients.

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 what the New York Times last spring called “concierge for the masses” because it was much cheaper than the historically high cost of concierge medicine some Congressional investigators found to be $5,000 to $15,000 a year or more.

“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 (AET), Humana (HUM) or aUnitedHealth Group (UNH).

Under a proposal under consideration by Congress and Medicare officials, a pilot program  would provide “monthly fee-based payments for direct primary care medical homes” for certain Medicare beneficiaries, according to the legislation introduced by Rep.  Bill Cassidy, a Louisiana Republican and physician.

Supporters of the direct primary care approach see the pilots as a way to show Congress and an Obama administration eager to reign in Medicare spending that the concept can provide quality medical care and lower costs.


also from   Bruce Japsen Contributor

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