My Parents’ Medical Care – Not Well

My sister popped up on IM tonight. I couldn’t hear her voice, but I could sense she was upset. I’m not sure how that works in a few short typed words, but I knew. I picked up the phone and gave her a call.

She had spoken to our folks earlier in the evening and was upset. By the end of the call I was upset too.

Their doctor… their internist… had decided to affiliate with a program called MDVIP. Basically, in order to stay patients of his they would have to pony up $1,500 per year each.

The $1,500 would buy them an examination and wellness program. The bottom line is, they would receive similar care, still paying for each visit under Medicare, at an additional cost of $3,000.

The physician said this would allow him to limit his practice to 600 patients. Well yeah! Because his end of the $1,500 is $1,000 ($500 to MDVIP). Six hundred patients is $600,000 per year, plus whatever he charges to be a physician.

My blood is boiling because I consider this medical extortion. To me (though probably not to our legal system) this plan allows doctors to charge more than they are allowed to charge under Medicare.

Maybe I’m too naive – a babe in the woods. Grow up! Get with the program, Geoff.

A few years ago, Senator Bill Nelson of Florida got involved.

Nelson has introduced legislation in the Senate, S. 1606, that would prohibit doctors who charge access fees from also billing Medicare for their services. “If this practice continues to spread, it could mean the end of Medicare,” Nelson said. His legislation doesn’t address people covered by private health insurance. It would be up to the insurer whether to allow doctors in its network to charge consumers such fees.

The fact, three years later, my folk’s doctor is doing this, says Nelson failed.

Maybe I’m missing something? I dropped a note to my doctor/friend, Steve. No answer yet, but I’m anxious to get his read on this. After all, he’s on the other side of the stethoscope.

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