This came as a surprise, but Console & Hollawell P.C., personal injury attorneys based in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York have taken interest in cash-only medicine. They posted an optimistic essay after interviewing three successful doctors who’ve left the insurance-based pay-for-service system. This included our own Dr. Doug Nunamaker, who had a chance to share his motivations for practicing Atlas MD-style of primary care. If you’re looking for a personal essay laying out the possibilities made possible by exiting insurance-based medicine, this is it. It’s definitely worth sharing with your online network.
The writer included one of Doug’s favorite counterpoints to people who claim direct primary care (also referred to by the stifling term, concierge medicine) is only for the wealthy. Our affordable monthly memberships include tests like EKGs, Holter Monitor, DEXA Scans, spirometry and body fat analysis as well as procedures like removing lesions, fixing lacerations and applying breathing treatments and cryotherapy. And that’s not even an exhaustive list.
We also are able to charge as little as a few dollars for for some lab services done outside of the office. Some of these tests might be billed for upwards of $90 by insurance. We can save money on expensive tests like MRIs, too. That’s because we buy idle time from MRI companies who would rather sell unfilled appointments than make no money. It’s a similar approach used by travel Websites like Orbitz.
Obviously, we are thinking on our toes here at Atlas MD, and that’s what makes it possible for us to run a successful business. Couple that with the fact that we’re not discouraged by hours of paperwork just to get paid for our actual work, while overwhelmed by the excessive patients needed to meet our bottom line. We’re fortunate to work hard, and have the opportunity to figure out how to save our patients money so they STAY members of our practice. Because our model is somewhat radical, we’ve developed analogies to explain how we operate in relation to the accepted view of healthcare administration. Doug was able to include one of his favorite analogies in Console & Hollawell P.C.’s essay: “If car insurance worked like health insurance, it would pay for your gas, oil changes, and tires. The insurance company would tell you where to buy gas and what grade to buy, and you’d have to pre-approve all trips out of town.”
We know this to be absurd, yet it’s become the norm here in the States. And as the article points out loosely, students are being dissuaded from becoming primary care physicians because of the long hours, lower pay and expected headaches of operating in this system. Couple that with the fact that schools are not educating future doctors about the benefits of direct primary care, and the reality that most students fresh out of school won’t have the overhead and capital necessary to launch their own practice (or the business acumen accrued by tenured practitioners).
So yes, we’re optimistic about the possibilities our Atlas-style of care opens up. However, we have equal concern when the essayist questions if we are just “a band-aid” covering up a larger problem. He might not be entirely wrong, perhaps just less imaginative in his metaphor. We’d prefer to think of ourselves as a graft, something organic, capable of growing, and over time affecting positive change across a growing number of patients and practices. That said, check out the complete essay here. It captures the gist of what we’ve been saying for a while now: direct care DOES make sense, it just takes an adjustment of perspective.