Being insured in order to to see your primary doctor or specialty physician has become the norm. Many traditional physician practices will only accept you as a patient if you are enrolled in an insurance plan, either government funded or non-government funded. This has created a change in the relationship between a physician and the patients. In this post, I will show three reasons why patients should seek private pay arrangements with the physicians of their choice.
1. To keep the decision-making between the doctor and the patient. The moment a doctor is allowed by an insurance company to see patients who pay premiums to it, that doctor is accepting that there is a third entity that will monitor, question and in many changes change the decisions made by the doctor and the patient in the office encounter.
2. To assure privacy. Once a patient participates in an insurance plan, the patient is surrendering its private health information to a third party. There will be other individuals, employed or contracted by the insurance company, that will review the medical record for different purposes including quality of care, financial analysis and approval or denial of specific treatments.
3. To not be subject to restrictions and limits in insurance plans. Insurance companies can change their plans. Benefits that were part of the plan might not be present in the amended plan. Most of benefits are partially paid and the remainder has to be paid “out-of pocket” by the patient.
The concept of insurance is to spread the risk amongst a pool of people. The greater the pool, the better spread the risk is and the premiums may be lower. This is necessary when we take into account that hospitalizations, surgeries and prolonged treatments like, for example, dialysis or chemotherapy can be extremely costly. However, for outpatient care, when we deal with preventive medicine or with specialist consultations, it would be probably better to seek models that keep the relationship between a doctor and patient strictly between them.
Marco A. Ramos MD