There are serious problems with health care in America. The cost of medical insurance continues to increase 10%, 20% or even 30% each year. This is a much higher percentage increase than most American’s annual salary increase. For the past several years health insurance was one of the few items in the family budget that saw steep increases every year. Today, this is not true. Families are seeing increases in groceries, gasoline, mortgage payments, credit card interest rates and heating oil. Couple a stretched family budget with a poor economy and the future looks worse than the past. There are predictions that unemployment rates will rise. Another prediction is that more families will not be able to afford health insurance.
Studies indicate that people without insurance do not go to the doctor for checkups or for ailments that are not debilitating. Those with chronic diseases like diabetes that go without regular checkups usually end up in the emergency room. Often, people who go without regular medical care see treatable conditions progress into irreversible health problems like a heart attack or a stroke.
Perhaps a better description of our health care system would be a disease care system. There are government funded safety nets for those sick enough to go to the emergency room but in most cases there is not funding for wellness care or chronic disease management. This situation will only get worse as more Americans lose their jobs and their health insurance.
It is not just patients that are frustrated with our current system. Doctors are burdened by the excessive paperwork required by medical insurance companies. Most doctors today have one or more employees dedicated to processing insurance forms and following up with insurance carriers that do not pay in a timely manner. The set fees for Medicare and Medicaid patients are often far below actual costs for the service rendered. Politicians have been talking about reforming our health care system for decades and little has changed except the rising costs.
Doctors are also frustrated by laws that prevent them from charging patients without insurance less than Medicare and Medicaid set fees. Most doctors sincerely want to help their patients with little means by reducing fees so they will get regular medical care.
In the last few years, doctors in many cities across America have opted to discontinue accepting medical insurance and to change their practice to a cash only business. While some doctors do this on their own, in most cases a group of doctors work together and come up with a medical care plan. While these plans are not insurance, since they are a structured plan they are legal.
Doctor after doctor that has made this conversion to a cash only business has reported that they actually make more money. They are able to eliminate the staff personnel that handled insurance claims. They get paid as services are performed instead of waiting up to several months for payment. They no longer have to argue with the insurance company about needed treatment or tests. They are able to totally focus on treating their patients. Doctors report operating a cash only business is much less stressful and allows them to be more responsive to their patients needs.
Patients also like the Patients also like the cash only system. Since routine office visits are priced similar to an insurance co-pay more people without insurance are able to afford medical treatment. Some people choose to carry catastrophic medical insurance only and use the cash doctors for checkups and routine care. Since routine office visits are priced similar to an insurance co-pay more people without insurance are able to afford medical treatment. Some people choose to carry catastrophic medical insurance only and use the cash doctors for checkups and routine care.
If you are one of the growing numbers of Americans without medical insurance or if the cost of your insurance takes too big of a bite out of your budget, do some checking and see if your community has cash only doctors. If so, ask questions and find out exactly how they structure their fees. You may just find an affordable alternative to maintaining good health.