Use medical savings accounts to take back medicine from insurers, HMOs

LETTER — Posted July 26, 2004

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Regarding "Know your worth: A few last words from AMA chair" (Column, July 5): I whole heartedly support the commentary by former AMA Board Chair William G. Plested III, MD.

Physicians have no one but themselves to blame for the current state of affairs. The mega-insurance companies and HMOs would never have achieved their current level of success and dominance without the complicity of physicians.

We are the only ones who are trained, qualified and licensed to provide care. Our participation in their plans (albeit often reluctantly) has allowed these entities to loot billions of health care dollars for corporate profit and administrative salaries all at the expense of patient care and physician and hospital reimbursement. Sooner or later we need to grow a backbone and stand up and say "No more!"

We have to be the ones to take back medicine for the sake of our patients and our profession; no one else will do it for us. We have an opportunity to do so now with the availability of medical savings accounts. We should all be lobbying for expansion of this program.

I propose expansion of medical savings accounts (MSAs) making them available to all. This approach is a viable option that removes the intrusive third party from health care decisions and re-establishes the true doctor-patient relationship.

This option would be a win-win-win situation as patients can have affordable self-directed care, physicians will get fair reimbursement for their work and profits from the program could decrease liability premiums, which in turn would keep the cost of providing care down, thereby further benefiting our patients.

The only losers in this scenario are the managed care and insurance behemoths and the government bureaucrats and politicians who are drooling over the prospect of controlling our health care and our profession. Don't count on the government or insurers to solve our health care problems, (they are the problem, not the solution) but rather take action yourself and work with your colleagues, patients and the AMA before this opportunity passes.

Roderick Brown, MD, Glenwood, Minn.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2004/07/26/edlt0726.htm.

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