Friday, September 12, 2008

Fire The Insurance Company

A recent article from the Texas Medical Association suggests that doctors may do better if they "fire the insurance company". Here's the introduction:
For More Quality Time With Patients, Some Physicians Fire Insurance Companies

A type of old-fashioned medical practice is making a comeback in some corners: While most physicians contract with one or more insurance companies, some are no longer accepting health insurance at all. They want to increase their quality time with each patient, reduce hassles, and return to their passion – healing people...
Of course, patients, providers, and insurers have the right to contract in a free market to their mutual interest. But the current insurance market is so distorted from decades of government interference that it is a far cry from a true free market. What we now call "insurance" is more like a form of pre-paid health care, rather than a mechanism for protecting patients from rare-but-expensive events, such as a serious accident or illness. For example, we don't think of "car insurance" as paying for our routine oil changes, but we use "health insurance" to cover similar routine medical expenses.

The subsequent perverse economic incentives leads to inefficient spending and skyrocketing costs.

Patients and physicians who choose to contract directly without going through the current insurance system thus have the opportunity to benefit. Patients get better care and have more control over their health care spending. Doctors are able to practice better medicine according to their conscience and gain greater professional satisfaction. Both sides win as a result.