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Doctors dump health insurance plans, charge patients less

June 14, 2013 at 11:56 PM   |   Comments

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WICHITA, Kan., June 14 (UPI) -- A Kansas physician says he makes the same income and offers better quality care to his patients after he dumped all health insurance companies.

Thirty-two-year old family physician Doug Nunamaker of Wichita, Kan., said after five years of dealing with the red tape of health insurance companies and the high overhead for the staff he hired just to deal with paperwork, he switched to a system of charging his patients a monthly fee plus the price of an office visit or test, CNN/Money reported.

For example, under Nunamaker's membership plan -- also known as "concierge" medicine or "direct primary care" practices -- each patient pays a flat monthly fee to have unlimited access to the doctors and any medical service they can provide in the practice, such as stitches or an EKG.

For adults up to age 44, Nunamaker charges $50 a month, pediatric services are $10 a month, and for adults age 44 and older it costs $100 a month. Although Nunamaker calls the practice "cash-only," he accepts credit and debit cards for the fees and services.

Nunamaker and his partner negotiated deals for services outside the office. A cholesterol test costs the patient for $3, versus the $90 or more billed to insurance companies; an MRI can cost $400, compared with $2,000 or more billed to insurance companies.

The practice encourages patients and families to also carry some type of high-deductible health insurance plan in case of an emergency or serious illness requiring hospitalization, Nunamaker said.

Nunamaker said his annual salary is around $200,000, and he gets to spend more time with patients providing better care because he is not watching the clock and he gets to spend more time with this family.

Most of Nunamaker's clients are self-employed, small business owners, or small companies that found the monthly fee and the cost of the high-deductible plan was a cheaper option, CNN/Money reported.

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