Tags: physicians | cash | insurance | health

CNNMoney: Cash-Only Physicians Dispense Medicine, Not Insurance Claims

By    |   Thursday, 13 June 2013 08:16 AM

A small but growing number of physicians in the United States are going off the medical grid — they are leaving the health insurance system entirely and instead accept only patients who pay them directly by cash, check or credit card.

CNNMoney interviewed some direct-payment physicians who said their services cost much less as a result. But some health advocates predicted only the wealthy and the healthy will benefit from the cash-for-care system.

The American Academy of Family Physician said 4 percent of respondents in a 2012 survey reported taking only cash, up from 3 percent in 2010. A similar Medscape survey estimated 6 percent of physicians this year are taking only cash, up from 4 percent in 2012.

Editor's Note:
ObamaCare Secrets Revealed

Kevin Petersen, a Las Vegas-based general surgeon, told CNNMoney he stopped taking insurance because there was too much paperwork, insurance payments were falling and he lacked control of his practice.

“The insurance industry took over my practice,” he said. “They were telling me what procedures I could do, who I could treat — I basically became their employee.”

Petersen said he now does hernia operations for $5,000 each, including anesthesia and overhead — about one-third of what he said a patient would otherwise pay.

He told CNNMoney many of his patients are early retirees who are not yet eligible for Medicare but who can’t afford a full-fledged health policy.

Doug Nunamaker, a family physician in Wichita, Kan., said he has moved to a membership plan — also known as “concierge medicine” — by which each patient pays a flat monthly fee to unlimited access to physicians and office services such as EKGs or stitches.

The fees range from $10 monthly for children to $50 for adults younger than 45 and $100 for senior citizens. Nunamaker said he gets cholesterol tests done for $3 versus $90 for insurance-billed tests, and an MRI costs $400 compared with an insurance-billed rate of $2,000 or more.

But Kathleen Stoll, director of health policy at consumer advocacy group Families U.S.A., said there is a downside to cash-only medical care.

“They cherry-pick among their patient population to serve only the wealthier ones,” she said. “It certainly creates a barrier to care.”

The 2013 Milliman Medical Index estimated its now costs $22,030 for annual health insurance for an average American family of four.

The amount paid directly by the family — $9,144 in payroll deductions and out-of-pocket costs — now exceeds the cost of groceries for a typical family of four, Milliman stated. And the out-of-pocket cost alone — $3,600 for copayments, coinsurance and other costs — is more than the average household pays annually for gasoline.

Editor's Note: ObamaCare Secrets Revealed

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A small but growing number of physicians in the United States are going off the medical grid — they are leaving the health insurance system entirely and instead accept only patients who pay them directly by cash, check or credit card.
physicians,cash,insurance,health
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2013-16-13
Thursday, 13 June 2013 08:16 AM
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