Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Ponying up for club-level care

I’m back on the job today after an illness prompted me to visit my beloved doctor for the last time. It was my last encounter with her because as of Jan. 2, she’ll have left her Columbia practice – and all insurance participation – to form her own “membership practice,” as many popular physicians have done recently.

And, boy, does it sound nice – almost like a health club membership.

For $1,800 a year (or quarterly payments of $475), I’d be one of only 400 patients under her care. I’d receive the convenience of in-office blood draws, vaccines, and personal e-mails from my doctor; all services she has cut from her current practice due to increasing costs. As she writes in her letter, “There are no copayments, no deductibles, and no insurance paperwork.” By cutting out the insurance companies, she can do more for each of her patients.

At least, the ones who can afford to keep seeing her.

The choice is mine: pony up for “old-fashioned” service, or join the masses hunting for a qualified physician who accepts my insurance.

I wonder which is the lesser of two evils?

-JACKIE SAUTER, Multimedia Editor

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