Remember that "If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor" promise? Seems in our case the promise only holds true with a huge asterisk.
Let me explain:
I've been seeing this particular GP for 15-20 years. Great guy, almost the prototype of an old time country doctor. A homey bedside manner, never one to over explain things to prove he's the smartest guy in the room. But any time we'd ask questions he always had good advice. He's well read and keeps up with the literature. I've had other health care practitioners tell me lauding stories of their experiences with him.
Best part, he's far more available than most practices. The SCQueen's Dr had a minimum two week delay for an appointment. (Chicken pox? no prob... see me in two weeks! gah! thanks for caring.) I could wake up in the morning with a concern and get in to see my guy before sunset (usually just after lunch). Once I broke a rib just before lunch. Each breath was an exercise in (7/10) pain. I didn't even call as the phone was ~75 steps in the wrong direction. I just went and they saw me immediately****.
Great guy, he's one in a million. I wouldn't trade him for all of the top experts at any of the big name medical schools.
That was the past.. now to present day:
The SCSon was sent home from school today with orders not to return until he's been cleared by a doctor*.
Calling for an appointment today we were warned MyDoc(tm) no longer processes insurance papers. All services would be cash on the barrel head (my words not theirs). Proper papers would be provided so we could make our own claim but the old pay model where they would submit to the insurance co then bill us for the balance was dead and gone. No bigge, we really like this guy so his bills always got paid first.
I emailed my friendly local DayJob(tm) med insurance HR contact for info on how to file my own claim. Her response included an interesting comment "If he is in network, he HAS to file the claim" (emphasis mine).
Hmmm... he's always been in network but perhaps there's been a change. Call up the POTCD**'s billing department. In effect "Yea, the new paper work is too much trouble - it's just not worth our time. We'll publish a fee schedule and in general, you'll see about a $30 savings over the insurance co's "ordinary and reasonable" fee".
And sure enough filing for insurance today's visit would have cost ~$82, our cash up front cost was ~$50.
Bottom line, Yes we get to keep our doctor (for now) but we now have to pay cash at the time of service and keep the insurance co out of the loop until we have enough to meet the deductible. Less work for them, lower cost up front, more work for me. I told the Billing Department*** "Don't blame you. We stand with you and BTW, you're not allowed to retire ;-)"
In reality I probably won't bother to file the insurance claim. We have the high deductible "insurance for when I get hit by a bus" plan. And we are not likely to meet that in the few months remaining in the plan year. So no benefit to file the claim.
And no... MyDoc(tm) is not accepting new patients.
$.02... Prolly be worth a call to your primary care doc to inquire of your current status. That's kind of the point of this post. We thought everything was status quo after all we don't have personal insurance policies ofthe type we've read about in the news. Today we learned, Nope - Major change in the ground rules. And I don't see it getting any better.
* Don't sweat the SCSon's illness.. It's probably NBD, a sore throat but the school nurse is hypersensitive to symptoms this time of year (and not willing to take any risks so "go see a realdoc(tm)" is the default setting).
I am not optomistic even this pay model is long for this world. I won't even give credence to possible alternatives...
** Prototypical Old Time Country Doctor
*** The practice consists of the good POTCD and his wife who handles scheduling, billing, and front office everything.
**** He sent me home with some pain meds. An hour later I was in bed watching TV. The only thing on besides soaps and info-mercials was "Tool Time" I can personally attest a comedy is the wrong answer when dealing with a broken rib.
FTC notice.. MyDoc(tm) is not identified, nor has he provided any compensation for this post, nor is he accepting any new patients (to the best of my knowledge). So a) this isn't advertising, and b) what would be the benefit?