Thursday, November 29, 2012

Local doctor charges $40 for office visit, no bills, no insurance, no Medicare or Medicaid

    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.


jmsrobertson90 said...

I was also pleasantly surprised to see this flyer in the mail. Your description reminds me of the one Ron Paul uses to describe the healthcare system when he began practicing. Big expenses were covered by insurance while routine ones were paid for in cash. Those would could not afford to pay were treated by charitable institutions. I would love to see a move back towards this type of system which would inevitably lead to lower costs and provide individuals with more control over their own care. I fear, however, that the recent regulatory overreaches by the federal government will provide too many disincentives for these types of offices to flourish.

Col. Reb Sez said...

Yes, if we've reached the point that the government is willing to require the Catholic church to buy insurance policies that provide free birth control, I would say the opposite of the Ron Paul plan is in effect.

$9 a month for birth control is just too much of an expense for people to shoulder on their own.

jmsrobertson90 said...

Typical Old White Man Conservative, trying to come between a woman and her health choices. Don't you know that it's everyone's responsibility to ensure that women have access to those drugs? And by access, I mean that everyone has to pay for it.

Col. Reb Sez said...

Not paying for something isn't getting between a woman and her choices. But hey, I'm fine with the government providing free, basic birth control. Just don't make the church or someone with a religious objection do it!

Also, basic birth control costs $9 a month, but if you choose the newest kind advertised on TV it can cost $80 a month. If it's free, guess which kind most women will be pressuring their doctors for.