A Portland, Maine, physician believes he's found the cure for this country's ailing health care system: No more health insurance.
Dr. Michael Ciampi announced on April 1st that he would no longer be accepting insurance in any form as payment for his services.
But this was no April Fool's joke: Dr. Ciampi says he decided to cut out the middleman and deal directly with his patients.
He even posted a price list on his website — from brief visits ($50) to complete physicals ($150) to minor surgery ($200-$250).
Though he did lose a few hundred patients out of about 2,000, Ciampi told the Bangor Daily News that the new policy has allowed him to reduce his overhead and pass the savings on to the consumer.
"I’m freed up to do what I think is right for the patients," said Ciampi, who is now able to make house calls and even negotiate discounts for patients with financial hardships.
The doctor understands that some patients with insurance might find the hassle of having to seek reimbursement themselves too difficult and would opt for another PCP, but he fully expects to make up for the loss by attracting the self-employed and individuals without insurance or with unacceptably high deductibles.
Or even just people looking for a bargain: At least one patient who was being charged $160 per office visit before is now paying less than half that.
And Ciampi hopes this is just the beginning.
"If more doctors were able to do this, that would be real health care reform," he is quoted as saying. "That’s when we’d see the cost of medicine truly go down."
[screengrab via BDN]