Insurance should reimburse patients and not be a concern for physicians

LETTER — Posted June 13, 2005

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Regarding "Out of network, out of luck: The perils of breaking the tie" (Article, May 16):

I'm constantly amazed at how physicians allow themselves to be pushed around and bullied by insurance companies because they refuse to get involved in the dirty word "money" part of the patient care. That's the part where you get paid for your time and experience.

If the insurance company wishes to send the check to the patient, great. After all, it's the patient's insurance contract, not mine. That's what my auto policy did when I had a claim, and I did have to pay cash for the repair before getting reimbursed about three weeks later.

I'd encourage every physician who reads this letter to do the obvious thing and have the patients pay their service charges on the day of service, or at a bare minimum, guarantee them with a credit card or an alternate financing agreement. If you are too afraid to do that, then you deserve how you are getting treated. The insurance industry continues to undermine the physician-patient relationship, and physicians are not under obligation to treat people for free, or at someone's "approved" rate.

I'm out of network, and my patients pay my office charges. I see fewer patients a day, give them better service and set my own fee schedule. Don't be fooled by the insurance industry. You don't need them. They need you!

If patients have insurance coverage, great; if they don't, they simply save my superbill for tax purposes. My financial agreement is with my patient; any insurance contract they have is their business, not mine. Come on, people, toss off the insurance baggage. It's a whole new world out there!

Gary Page, MD, Layton, Utah

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2005/06/13/edlt0613.htm.

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