Dr. Michael Ciampi is implementing his own brand of healthcare reform; he has stopped accepting any kind of health insurance and instead asks his patients to pay him directly at the end of the office visit. He evens posts his fee schedule online.
The Portland, Maine, primary care physician claims that avoiding any interaction with the insurance bureaucracy allows him to bring down costs for his patients and offer better, more personalized treatment options. “But the decision to do away with insurance allows Ciampi to practice medicine the way he sees fit, he said. Insurance companies no longer dictate how much he charges. He can offer discounts to patients struggling with their medical bills. He can make house calls.”
Eliminating the insurance paperwork improves both patient care and the bottom line, the doctor explains: “I’m freed up to do what I think is right for the patients. If I’m providing them a service that they value, they can pay me, and we cut the insurance out as the middleman and cut out a lot of the expense.”
Added Ciampi: “I’ve been able to cut my prices in half because my overhead will be so much less … If more doctors were able to do this, that would be real health care reform. That’s when we’d see the cost of medicine truly go down.”
Dr. Ciampi posts his price list at his family practice website. He charges $50 for a brief office visit for example; an annual physical is $150.
On the website, the doctor explains the philosophy behind his decision to stop accepting health insurance of any kind. “Practicing this way gives us the freedom to collaborate with patients to create treatment plans that work best for them, not plans which will save their insurance company the most money. Because we eliminate the insurance companies as the middleman in your healthcare, we reduce our costs so that we can charge lower and more reasonable rates than we had to when dealing with insurance. This savings is passed on to you.”
As the insurance scenario gets more and more complicated, Ciampi expects other doctors to go in this direction.
Despite claims to the contrary when Obamacare, a.k.a. the Affordable Care Act, narrowly passed Congress on a straight party-line vote, insurers all over the country are forecasting huge premium increases when the law goes into effect in 2014.
Would you consider going to a direct-pay physician who no longer accepts insurance?