In Healthcare, You Get What You Pay For
Healthcare is expensive. And it is likely to stay expensive for many years to come. Yet, most of us have absolutely no idea why healthcare costs continue to rise so much. The most obvious reason is that the cost for even the most simple of services, like a visit to your doctor for a sinus infection, is wrapped up tightly in a complex relationship among doctors, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, and the federal government, each of whom “takes their cut”. Then, it takes a team of experts with enough advanced degrees to decorate the entire face of the Hoover Dam with diplomas to determine both value and cost for the service! What should be as simple as paying about $50 to your doctor for sitting in the same room with your doctor for 30 minutes to talk, get examined, discuss treatment options, and have all your questions answered, has ballooned into a cascade of copays, claims, deductibles, networks, HMOs, PPOs, EOBs, ACOs, prior authorizations and appeals. Lions and tigers and bears… Oh My!
Most recently, our patients have begun to rebel. Many have begun to make the same kind of choices in getting healthcare as when they need to have to pay for other professional services, like electricians, plumbers, and automobile mechanics. First, they are beginning to seek out the doctors and other agencies who are willing and able to deal with their concerns directly, promptly and efficiently, without having to wait for appointments, assignments and approvals from health insurance companies. Second, they are learning to value the doctors and other healthcare professionals who dedicate ample and sufficient time to address their concerns accurately and thoroughly. And third, out patients are taking on with increasing responsibility and accountability the need to shop around to find the best prices for needed healthcare services. In short, it is very apparent that many of our patient are cutting-out “the middle man”, where most of the hidden costs of healthcare are perpetuated.
The key to success in this emerging healthcare system is the elegance and simplicity of the doctor-patient relationship. When prioritized and strengthened, the doctor-patient relationship will restore our system of healthcare in America.
Michael J Lucherini MD MS
Dr. Lucherini specializes in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics. He practices at Summit Medicine and Pediatrics in Mesa, AZ, and is a Pioneer in Direct Access Medicine. His opinions expressed herein are personal and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of his staff, his patients, or his colleagues.
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