This guy has the right idea. We were talking in class today about a patient that needed an MRI because the physician saw all the signs of a tumor. She ordered the MRI but the insurance company wanted justification for why she wanted the MRI. She had to jump through hoops and provide all sorts of documentation before the insurance company would approve the MRI to find out 1. If he has a brain tumor, and 2. how extensive the tumor is.
This is a problem with our health care system right now. A doctor goes to school for eight years, then spends several more years in a residency program to learn about the body, the disease process, and how to effectively diagnose, manage, and/or cure different conditions. They bring all of this education and experience to bear….and then they hit the brick wall of a guy at an insurance company looking at a list of criteria for different conditions in a 3 ring binder (or whatever). Then this person who went through a six week training program looks at the doctor’s request for a test or procedure, and decides if the patient needs it (disclaimer: I don’t really know the process of becoming an insurance person that approves medical procedures, but I’m guessing it’s less than 12 years of medical school, etc).
That’s why I really like what Dr Ciampi is doing. He decided that he is tired of losing money to the middleman (insurance companies and the government), and he thinks his patients would rather pay him directly. He lost a couple hundred of his 2000 patients when he did this (about 10% by my math), but now his costs are way lower, his patient’s costs are way lower, he doesn’t have to ask permission from insurance companies to do what is best for his patients, and he doesn’t spend hours every week going over insurance forms and dealing with these companies (or paying someone to do this).
I hope that when I finish Nurse Practitioner school I can find a job working with a doctor like this. I’ve said for years that we need to go back to the time when you would call the doctor, and pay him with a chicken. I’m speaking figuratively of course, since most people don’t actually own chickens. But if you add up how much you pay in insurance premiums, copays, deductibles, etc, I’m guessing that most people would actually save money if they ditched their insurance company and just paid out of pocket.
This doesn’t address major medical issues, but for most people, this would work just fine. There is hope for our health care system, and it’s people like this that will make it work.