In free market endeavors, when external restrictions are placed on trade and commerce, rationality exerts itself and work-arounds are found and implemented.
It has always been our hope that one of the silver linings to the wretchedness of the new federal healthcare law (aka ObamaCare) would be a robust participation of doctors and patients alike in a gray-market of sorts operating outside the boundaries of ObamaCare and indeed outside of the bounds of the traditional health insurance complex.
Back in May, we reported out on a doctor in Maine who was not any longer accepting health insurance coverage for his patients. It is his belief that getting out from the onerous regulations imposed upon him by the health insurance complex would a) allow him to price his services more competitively and b) allow him to better serve his patients' needs. A win-win for everybody, right?
Well, it would appear that lone primary care-giver in Portland, Maine is not alone.
A Kansas physician says he makes the same income and offers better quality care to his patients after he dumped all health insurance companies.
Thirty-two-year old family physician Doug Nunamaker of Wichita, Kan., said after five years of dealing with the red tape of health insurance companies and the high overhead for the staff he hired just to deal with paperwork, he switched to a system of charging his patients a monthly fee plus the price of an office visit or test, CNN/Money reported.
For example, under Nunamaker's membership plan -- also known as "concierge" medicine or "direct primary care" practices -- each patient pays a flat monthly fee to have unlimited access to the doctors and any medical service they can provide in the practice, such as stitches or an EKG.
For adults up to age 44, Nunamaker charges $50 a month, pediatric services are $10 a month, and for adults age 44 and older it costs $100 a month. Although Nunamaker calls the practice "cash-only," he accepts credit and debit cards for the fees and services.
Nunamaker and his partner negotiated deals for services outside the office. A cholesterol test costs the patient for $3, versus the $90 or more billed to insurance companies; an MRI can cost $400, compared with $2,000 or more billed to insurance companies.
Again, under the current system of third party payer which will only be exacerbated by ObamaCare, no one really knows the true cost of medical procedures leading to the gross pricing distortions described above.
Back to the article:
The practice encourages patients and families to also carry some type of high-deductible health insurance plan in case of an emergency or serious illness requiring hospitalization, Nunamaker said.
Nunamaker said his annual salary is around $200,000, and he gets to spend more time with patients providing better care because he is not watching the clock and he gets to spend more time with this family.
Most of Nunamaker's clients are self-employed, small business owners, or small companies that found the monthly fee and the cost of the high-deductible plan was a cheaper option, CNN/Money reported.
Lowering healthcare costs while improving the quality of healthcare provided to you by your doc... What's not too like about that? And the fact that these subversive gray market practices might just put ObamaCare out of business makes this a beautiful trifecta.
We are literally typing this with a smile on our face as nothing makes us happier than seeing individual Americans executing some free-market
entrepreneurship to stick it to the entrenched interests in D.C. while improving the quality of service they provide in their particular marketplace.
May these acts of subversiveness continue across this great nation of ours.