Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The New Transparency

Longtime IB readers know of my interest in (bordering on obsession with) transparency in health care financing. How cool would it be if your doc not only told you the price of his services up-front, but even posted them on-line? Well, that's precisely how Dr Ryan Neuhofel rolls:

"Direct primary care," which is the industry term for Neuhofel's business model, does away with the bureaucratic hassle of insurance, which translates into much lower prices ... He consults with his patients over email and Skype in exchange for a monthly membership fee of $20-30"

Whether one calls it "direct primary" or "concierge" care, the model seems to be catching on. Last fall, we interviewed Dr Rob Lamberts about his new practice, which employs a similar model. In a sense, it's a response to the changing face of health care, especially the ObamaTax and its myriad of new directives and restrictions.

One thing no one seems to be discussing, though, is the interplay between these direct care models and the new requirement that everyone purchase insurance. What this means is that, for those who can't afford both the insurance and the cash pricing, provider options are going to become quite limited. The result will be an even more pronounced two-tier health care delivery system: direct care providers for folks with bucks to burn while the rest of us scramble to find any provider willing to take us (and our shiny new ObamaTax coverage).

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