I’m not sure how long this would be allowed to last since Obamacare will require everybody to have insurance, and there would be less incentive to go to someone like this who no longer wants to work for the government or insurance companies. Michael Ciampi is a family doctor in South Portland, Maine who left Mercy health system in 2003 to operate his own private practice. He didn’t like the hospital setting, because “you have a lot of administrators that [control] what you do.” He doesn’t like the idea of hospital consolidation, because like with anything else, “competition is good.” What he wanted was more autonomy and more flexibility. In short, freedom.
Last month, he officially stopped taking payments from Medicare, Medicaid and all other third party commercial insurance companies. This is what he said:
“As a private practice, with what’s coming with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, the regulations that are coming out are coming out several pages a week, and there’s no way that small private practices are going to be able to comply with all these regulations. So what we’re doing now, we’re not taking insurance, we’re asking people to pay at the time of service, just like you would pay…your lawyer or your plumber. Now, I work for patients. I don’t work for the government, and I don’t work for insurance companies.”
He said that if more doctors did this, we’d see the price of healthcare go down. He’s right. And the quality would go up, because doctors would be vying for customers. The government’s so involved with the healthcare industry that competition is being slowly outlawed. The government doesn’t want there to be any competition, because they want to control everything.
Critics are saying that this doctor is only for elite, rich people. But that’s not entirely true. Before his decision to opt out of all government and commercial insurance payers, he had about 2,000 patients. Since the shift in April, he’s lost a few hundred. But because he doesn’t have to deal with insurance companies at all anymore, he’s been able to cut his prices in half. He’s even got his prices listed for certain routine services here on his website.
His changes will obviously turn away those who already pay a pretty penny for their health insurance. But for those who are self-employed or for whatever reason don’t have health insurance, paying only $50 cash for a simple office visit for one straightforward health issue sounds pretty good. He might even end up doing better financially than he did when he had to deal with insurance.
If more doctors did this, there would be competition, prices would go down, and there would be less incentive for people to have to pay for costly health insurance at all (except for catastrophic care). Obamacare will effectively eliminate competition and force everybody into the government’s healthcare system, where the cost will continue to increase, and the quality will continue to deteriorate. More doctors should do what Dr. Ciampi has done.