It boggles the mind that some people think the cost of healthcare will go down if all doctors become hospital employees. When a private practice doctor can make a profit by seeing patients for $200, but the fee for the exact same 25 minute appointment becomes $455 when the doctor is employed by a hospital, something is dreadfully wrong.
How can charging more than double be construed as reducing costs?
To me, it seems that patients could put an end to such nonsense by refusing to see a doctor employed by any hospital using such tactics. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Since the insurance reform law passed, it’s getting harder and harder to find doctors in private practice.
For my daughter, it’s impossible. According to the ACR, there are only five practicing pediatric rheumatologists in my state. All of them are at Children’s. If it were me, I’d look for a different doctor – one not affiliated with a hospital extorting facilities fees. I can’t take my daughter elsewhere, though; there is nowhere else. We’re stuck.
We recently discovered something that sheds a little light on the situation. The hospital is requiring doctors to do lots more computer work. An oddly reasonable administrative ruling has lightened doctors’ patient load to give them time to do that
paper computer work. The problem that the hospital ran into is that if doctors see fewer patients, they’ll earn less money and that puts a huge crimp in the cash flow. Now I understand the reasoning behind the facilities fee. Instead of seeing two patients to earn $400, they’ll just see one patient and charge $455. Half the work, but even more income.
There’s a flaw in that solution. Tacking on a facilities fee does not mean that the hospital will get more money. It means that people like me, who would never have dreamed of asking for financial assistance in the past, are now doing it.
Welcome to unintended consequences.