ObamaCare Driving Doctors and Patients to Direct Pay

By:  Bob Adelmann
11/18/2013
       
ObamaCare Driving Doctors and Patients to Direct Pay

Direct Pay physicians are increasing at 25 percent a year as patients are discovering the negative impacts ObamaCare is already having on their healthcare.

UnitedHealth Group has dropped thousands of doctors from its networks due to falling reimbursements, leaving patients wondering what their options are. So are those physicians.

One of those physicians, Dr. Josh Umbehr in Wichita, Kansas, has opened his own “direct pay” practice as an answer to both. On his website he notes the following benefits for patients who are looking for alternatives to ObamaCare. For a small monthly fee, ranging from $10 a month (for children under 20) to $100 (for adults over 65), one becomes a member of his Atlas MD, and enjoys these benefits:

• Personalized care tailored to your comfort level.

• A physician who knows your story inside and out.

• The choice to be seen at our office or at your home (house calls....yep, we do that too!)

• The knowledge that you are one of only about 500 patients each physician is giving their attention to.

• Same-day scheduling with absolutely no wait and extended visits of an hour or more if you’d like.

• Quality time with your doctor; ask all the questions you want...we actually want you to!

• Your doctor’s cell phone number. That’s what we call around-the-clock service.

• Inexpensive and direct service. We work directly with you instead of hassling with insurance.

What’s driving people to Dr. Umbehr’s office is not only the increasing pressure on physicians to perform more duties in addition to practicing medicine and the resulting increasing declines to patient access, but also a little known provision in the Affordable Care Act (ACA): Section 1301 and amendment Section 10104. This allows practices such as Dr. Umbehr’s to compete with traditional health insurance options under ObamaCare when they are combined with a high-deductible, lower premium plan designed to cover catastrophic medical costs.

What’s invisible to Dr. Umbehr’s patients, and others who use direct pay or direct primary care (DPC) practices, is that each of them is one of only about 500 or fewer patients the doctor is seeing, instead of being just one of 3,000 to 4,000 or more in the usual medical practice. It’s win-win all around: The doctor can spend much more of his time seeing patients, and taking more time with each one, while the patient is able to get much quicker access to him and also closer personal attention from him.

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