Shop Around

Here is an article explaining by Julie Appleby on how some “right-to-shop” laws are helping people save money. In principle, I love this but I am worried that it can seem forced and could get weird real fast.  We see what insurance companies have done with “narrow networking” to force patients to pick “their” doctors.  But they are saving the patients money, right? Nope. It’s extortion.  That being said, this may be different and here are some things in the article:

  • Laurie Cook went shopping recently for a mammogram near her home in New Hampshire. Using an online tool provided through her insurer, she plugged in her ZIP code. Up popped facilities in her network, each with an incentive amount she would be paid if she chose it. Paid? To get a test? It’s part of a strategy to rein in health care spending by steering patients to the most cost-effective providers for non-emergency care.
  • Maine’s law, adopted last year, requires insurers that sell coverage to small businesses to offer financial incentives — such as gift cards, discounts on deductibles or direct payments — to encourage patients, starting in 2019, to shop around.
  • A second and possibly more controversial provision also kicks in next year, requiring insurers, except HMOs, to allow patients to go out-of-network for care if they can find comparable services for less than the average price insurers pay in network.

I like this but I want insurers out of the game.  I don’t want them just raising their deductibles forcing us to find the cheaper drug, cheaper CT scan, and cheaper procedures all the while THEIR RATES STAY THE SAME OR GO UP!  Do you see the scam going on?  They are using the free market against us while they continue to gouge us.

I want transparent prices.  I want patients to be able to use some tools to figure out which doctors to go to (word of mouth, statistics, referral by another doctor and even ratings) so they can shop around.  I want insurers to just cover catastrophic occurrences and let the free market work.  It’s not perfect but it is directionally accurate.

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Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected] 

  4 comments for “Shop Around

  1. John Chamberlain
    March 7, 2018 at 9:23 am

    Price transparency tools must be insurance agnostic.

    Any other arrangement is “Fox in the henhouse” crazy.

    Pratter and Clear Health Costs come to mind. They are independent, third party resources.

    • Steve O'
      March 7, 2018 at 11:00 am

      Price transparency and all the IT stuff are premised upon the ability to render everything as a retail PRODUCT. People run most businesses as though they are all about transacting commodities for cash.
      Medicine CANNOT BE DONE in this way. “I’ll do your breast exam for $11.50, and throw in a P&P for 50% off!” You can’t sell clinic space like airline seats.
      “Boss, our Pap&Pelvic inventory is over 100% and we gotta move them before Fall fashion time!” Silly, it’s just that silly.

      • Perry
        March 7, 2018 at 2:28 pm

        Hey, there’s a blue light special on sigmoidoscopies today!

  2. Steve O'
    March 7, 2018 at 9:06 am

    It’s as phoney as the new “DPC consultants” who will set you up and control you, taking a fee off the top. The big businesses want to own some house call slaves, so they coopt the term DPC. They’ll bill insurance, you make the house call run.

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