I got an interesting flyer in the mail not long ago that suggests which way medical care may be heading in the near future.
The flyer is for a medical clinic operated by local doctor Thomas Fowlkes and two nurse practitioners.
Dr. Fowlkes' clinic doesn't accept Medicaid, Medicare, or insurance. Payment is expected when services are rendered; no bills. An office visit costs $40 -- substantially less than at most clinics.
Ask any doctor about the problems with getting paid by insurance companies or the government and after their blood pressure goes down they will tell you the billing side of the business is killing them. A substantial portion of the typical medical practice is now devoted solely to maintaining billing and insurance records. As Medicare reimbursements drop I think we'll see more doctors pulling out of the system altogether.
In addition to marketing his clinic to people without insurance, Fowlkes also seeks those who have insurance but also either have a high deductible or else those who are in a hurry. Obamacare is expected to dramatically increase the already long wait time to see a doctor. Fowlkes's clinic doesn't accept appointments and sets a goal of seeing patients within 15 minutes of arrival.
I suspect that in the future more and more people with either insurance or Medicare will decide to just pay cash for service for their minor ailments rather than endure the hassle of a long wait for an appointment at their preferred doctor's office.
In fact, it may be the formula all medical providers need to adopt in the future. For the big stuff, use insurance; for the little stuff, just pay.
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