Growing movement towards cash only medical providers

Consumers fed up with expensive procedures, financial confusion, and a subpar doctor-patient relationship now have a second option. Certain medical providers are instituting cash-only payment options. Paying all cash for medical care has a variety of benefits. For example, when a patient opts to utilize a cash only medical option, they essentially do away with the middleman (insurance companies). This in turn eliminates third-party billing and waiting for reimbursement and allows the patient to budget and save accordingly. The time is long gone that the uninsured pay the lowest rates for treatment. “In the 1950s, the uninsured and poor were charged the lowest prices for medical service. Today they pay the highest prices, often two to three times more than what a person with health insurance would pay for hospital care,” says Gerald F. Anderson, a professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. Cash-only, also known as direct-pay, medical practices cater to the uninsured with high-deductible health plans that kick in for major expenditures. Ted Epperly, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, estimates that there are now 500 to 1,000 family medicine practices across the country operating on a cash-only model. This makes it easier to offer flat rates, rather than negotiate with insurance companies to the last dollar. Pricing for direct pay networks sometimes vary by time spent with the patient. Time is paid for based on the length of the visit, from 5 minutes to 60. This allows time for thorough evaluation and breeds a sense of camaraderie between patient and doctor, something that is becoming more and more rare in patient care. The simple and transparent pricing system also allows for complete trust as the patient knows exactly what they are paying for and for how much. The convenience of such a system cannot be overstated as well. Doctors involved in the direct-pay model tend to be more available to their patients via e-mail and phone than regular doctors. Some even make house calls. The direct pay option is one that should be considered by un or underinsured patients unsatisfied with the way things are currently being done in terms of patient care. It provides convenience, affordability, proper doctor-patient relationship, and financial clarity.


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