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Doctors cut prices!

QuickPoint!

A movement is afoot that is driving health care costs down. Among the leaders in Oregon are Drs. Mike Jaczko in Carlton, Manya Helman in Salem, and Char Glenn in Portland.

These physicians provide low prices for patients who pay for services at the time they are rendered. This reduces clinic overhead costs, and the savings are passed along to patients.

The expense of collecting payment from third-party payers — insurance companies and the government — substantially inflates health care costs. Dr. Robert S. Berry, highlighted in a November 6 Wall Street Journal article, no longer accepts third-party payments, not even Medicare. The Tennessee doctor’s monthly overhead expenses are now approximately $6,000; he estimates that figure would leap to $18,000 if he took third-party payments again.

Mississippi internist Todd Coulter has returned to health care’s historical roots too. Coulter, who was also profiled in the Journal article, tired of insurance companies that delayed payments, denied claims altogether, or reimbursed him at discounted rates. By taking cash-paying patients only, Coulter has been able to cut his overhead costs, and thus reduce his office visit charge from $60 to $40.

Thousands of health care providers across Oregon and the country offer discount prices to patients who pay for services, including lab tests, at the time of their appointment. This is a win-win movement: Providers get to spend more time with patients, less time on paperwork, and it protects the patient-physician relationship. Further, it makes quality health care more affordable for all.

Kurt T. Weber is vice president of Cascade Policy Institute, a Portland, Oregon based think tank.

© 2006, Cascade Policy Institute. All rights reserved. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided the author and Cascade Policy Institute are cited. Contact Cascade at (503) 242-0900 to arrange print or broadcast interviews on this topic. For more topics visit the QuickPoint! archive.

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