Physicians Pulling Out Of Medicare/Medicaid

What would you do in the following circumstances?

You have a business that caters to those seeking your goods or services. To help increase the number of customers you will see, you work a deal with a buyer's club to offer their members special consideration (better prices during sales or a small discount for some services or goods). Now, after a year or two, the buyer's club tells informs you that will give a 20-30% discount for all goods and services to their members or they'll make it difficult for you to do business.

If you're like most people, you'd tell them to take a hike and break off doing business with the buyer's club. From that point on any members of the club that show up at your business will be told you no longer take their membership card or coupons. They have to pay the same price as everyone else.

In effect that's what happening in health care, where doctors and other medical professionals are being told Medicare and Medicaid will only pay a percentage of what is owed for treatment. In many cases the reimbursement being offered by those two programs doesn't cover the cost of providing care, particularly when the cost of doing all the paperwork involved is so high.

Doctors are deciding they will no longer take Medicare or Medicaid patients because they lose money with every single one. Some doctors have gone so far as to become cash-only practitioners, taking no insurance and doing away with the exorbitant costs of processing insurance forms and justifying every little detail of treatment. Can you blame them?

Writes Dr. Marc Siegel, a internist and associate professor of medicine at the NYU Langone Medical Center:

Bottom line: None of the current plans, government or private, provide my patients with the care they need. And the care that is provided is increasingly expensive and requires a big battle for approvals. Of course, we're promised by the Obama administration that universal health insurance will avoid all these problems. But how is that possible when you consider that the medical turnstiles will be the same as they are now, only they will be clogged with more and more patients? The doctors that remain in this expanded system will be even more overwhelmed than we are now.

I wouldn't want to be a patient when that happens.

Neither would I.

John Stossel took a look at health care back in 2007, exposing the problems government is creating and how health insurance, particularly government health insurance, has drastically driven up costs of providing care. His report also highlighted a number of physicians who broke away from the health insurance feeding trough and take cash only.

An interesting side effect of this move was the how little these doctors charge patients for services rendered now that they are out from under the all-seeing eye of the insurance companies. They even post their fees in their waiting rooms so there's no question what the doctor will charge. Another side effect: patients got better care, even the poor patients. With health insurance, the actual cost of any given service or procedure is hidden from view because the of added costs of processing the insurance forms, justifications for treatment, and making the eventual payment to the provider. That's a huge overhead we're all paying just for health insurance.

We'd be better off without health insurance, at least for routine medical care. I can see health insurance for catastrophic care and for some kinds of chronic care, but that's it. Health insurance for anything else is a waste of money and time (and remember, time is money).

Update: For a preview of what government controlled health care (socialized medicine) is really like, here's a view from Canada:

Having worked closely with the Canadian government's healthcare, here are few telling quote from the health minister.

- 27%-33% of the population account for 90% of annual health care expenditures. The other 67%-73% are either well or undiagnosed.

- Canada population is smaller than California's and less homogeneous.

- US health care subsidizes the world's socialized health systems. Without the profits from health care there would be little or no research, drugs, protocols, procedures, or broad based care. All gov run systems would simply degrade and push people into more privatized care, while still paying taxes for our gov program.

- 30% of Canadians pay taxes for government care AND carry a private policy.

- Medicare/Medicaid's government programs are larger in expenditures than all the world's socialized systems combined.

- The US population is not as homogeneous as the other countries used the dollar-benefit calculations, regarding longevity, birth survivals, etc. Factor out illegals and the poor who, in many cases. have a family histories where no one has ever been to a doctor, then they walk in to emergency room and say fix me. Understand the drivers of "hidden" costs and the US will rank highest in options and outcomes for equivalent dollars.

When it matters, i.e. when its personal, Canadian officials secretly (to the average Canadian) send their children, themselves and friends to Cleveland or NY for care. Canadians in Ft Myers, FL, use a long-standing US billing service to remit their medical bills to Canada, while receiving treatment on "vacation" in the US.

If Bureaucrats can decree groups or individual as servants of the state, our history seems to indicate the subjugated do not remain so for long.

Do we really want to go down the path others countries have trodden and end up with a health care system that neither keeps people healthy or provides care.

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