For quite some time, health insurance in America has been a heated topic of discussion. This is something that escalated with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act , otherwise known as “Obamacare.” What degree of government intervention do we allow in our healthcare decisions? Should they be involved at all? Some could argue for the benefits of government advocating for the people, but the addition of another middleman complicates things greatly.
This is why health insurance companies can be problematic as well. Whether it be the government or a health insurance company, allowing additional middlemen into the patient-doctor relationship complicates a medical decision. “Would this procedure help my condition?” changes to “Will my insurance company allow this?” or in a more government controlled environment, what the government would green light.
This is why a growing minority of doctors are breaking free of the system and dumping health insurance altogether. In only accepting cash and debit or credit cards, they’re cutting out middlemen so medical discussions can occur more directly.
CNN Money once did an interesting article regarding the “cash-only doctor” movement. Describing it as cash-only is not necessarily an honest representation of the doctors, because realistically the only major difference between them and mainstream doctors is the utilization and acceptance of health insurance. So-called “cash-only doctors” accept payments from the patient and negotiate with them directly, as opposed to raising costs to cover paying middlemen .
Doug Nunamaker is a 32-year old old family physician who runs Atlas M.D. with a partner out of Wichita, Kansas. For six years now, he has operated without health insurance and instead using a flat monthly fee for members to gain access to healthcare.
Kevin Petersen is a general surgeon out of Las Vegas, Nevada who has operated under the model for eleven years now. The result for him is being able to control his own practice and offer services to his patients for significantly less in costs.
Both medical professionals are different types of doctors, but still have opted to cut the middleman out of health insurance and instead solidify the patient-doctor relationship. The result is less paperwork and not being subject to approval to health insurance companies who often ended up running the practice.
Services can be offered at a lower rate because there is less middlemen. Doctors don’t need extra money to cover the added cost of health insurance companies and also experience more freedom. Without the middleman, doctors have the freedom to negotiate costs with their patients and find a way to make the procedure happen without going through an insurance company.
The number of doctors currently using the model is still minimal, but is indeed rising. Every year, it takes baby steps forward. The result, doctors find, is added freedom and better relationships with their patients. They can spend more time getting to know patients and less time dealing with added bureaucracy and middlemen.
Free markets are often demonized because of what health insurance companies have done to the industry. The solution some seek is through government, such as with Obamacare. But if anything, the complication of the industry by health insurance companies shows us why less government is needed, because whether it be a health insurance company or a government agency, it’s still a third party interfering. Third party interference makes the situation worse.
What Nunamaker and Petersen show us that the innovative doctors can make their practice work for both themselves and the patients without health insurance companies or government bureaucracies. This is how the free market works. When a system isn’t working, new ideas advance to fix a broken system.