Chris emailed me an interesting story about a doctor in Maine, Dr. Michael Ciampi, who has stopped taking any insurance, only takes cash, but has lowered his prices, in some cases, in half.
And he’s willing to give people who need a further break even bigger price cuts.
He’s even posted his price list online. Here are a few of the charges:
Chris pointed out to me that while the doctor visits range from $50 to $100, he still pays only 23 euros (about $30) for his doctor in Paris, whose office is in a rented apartment in Chris’ building. The prices are so lower because the French government regulates them. Oh, and that’s the price you’d pay as a foreign without insurance. The French get most of that fee reimbursed from their national insurance plan.
The arbitrariness, and exorbitance, of American medical fees has always bothered me. It was only in the past few years that I finally understood the “non-allowed” portion of my insurance receipt. Basically, what happens is that my doctor submits the bill to the insurance company, and the insurance company says “oh, no, we’re not going to pay $14,000 for the facility charge for your cataract surgery – we’re only going to pay $5,000.” And the doctors says, okay.
Well, the doctor says okay if you have insurance and he accepts your insurance plan. If you don’t have any insurance at all, the hospital socks you for the full $14,000, which you can attempt to negotiate on your own (good luck with that).
Why should cataract surgery cost me nearly 1/3 the price of what they charge someone who has no insurance at all? You’d think that if someone didn’t have insurance, especially if they couldn’t afford it, you might want them to pay less, not more, than someone who can afford insurance.
The only thing that worries me is that while the doctor in Maine is cutting his prices in half, my insurance company often seems to cut them to one-third. Though, if you have insurance, you could still submit the bill to your insurance company and hopefully get half or more back.
Such is America’s goofy medical system. Best in the world! If you can afford it.