With the paperwork of medical insurance and the bizarre, politically driven inclusions, exclusions and mandates of Obamacare, more and more Texas doctors are opting out of insurance altogether and moving into the growing field called 'Concierge Medicine,' 1200 WOAI's Michael Board reports.
Under Concierge Care, patients pay a monthly fee, generally in the range of $20 to $80 for an adult and $10 to $30 for a child, in exchange for unlimited visits to the doctor, reduced charge or no charge office tests, exams, and vaccinations, and even getting the doctor's discounts on medications.
Dr. John Rodriguez, who operates Business Healthcare Solutions in San Antonio, has made the move to Concierge Care, and he says the payoff for him is no longer having to deal with the agonizing bureaucracy of insurance paperwork.
"You don't have to go through insurance companies to get permission, to order things, and you don't have to get the 'permission' of insurance companies to get the tests that people need," he said. "That is such a big hassle."
Dr. Rodriguez says he doesn't have to have a large staff he has to pay to handle insurance paperwork, and, like many doctors, he doesn't spend as much as one third of his day arguing with clueless insurance company file clerks to get permission to provide care to his patients.
The Texas Medical Association says a small, but rapidly growing number of internists and family practice doctors are partially or entirely making the move to Concierge Care, and that number is expected to increase as the mandates of the Affordable Care Act are expected to push more and more patients out of the insurance market, and ratchet up even further the expensive insurance paperwork required of doctors offices.
"A lot of physicians are jealous, because I don't have to send the right codes and fill out the right types of documentation to get paid," Dr. Rodriguez says.
The Concierge Care model also helps doctors avoid what physicians call the 'hand on the doorknob' model of health care, where they are always rushing from patient to patient to make sure they see enough people during the course of the day to pay for all the paperwork they have to fill out. Many Concierge Care docs say with the monthly payment comes a private line where they can call the doctor any time, and, in many cases, even house calls.
"We don't have to deal with all of the insurance hassles, you can operate more efficiently, and at a lower cost," Dr. Rodriguez said.
And one big benefit for many Concierge Care patients. Many physicians offer their 'clients' the full range of price cuts they get from pharmaceutical companies, allowing many patients to obtain needed drugs at a fraction of what they would pay at the drug store, even with insurance.