Dr. Michael Ciampi, a doctor in Portland, ME, has made some revolutionary changes in his medical practice. This family physician stopped accepting all forms of health insurance and is committed to posting all of the prices for his services on his practice’s website. It may seem extreme, but I honestly think this is a step in the right direction in terms of fixing our country’s terribly expensive healthcare system.
Now, I don’t necessarily think it’s awesome that this doctor has stopped accepting all insurance, because it means that some insured people (who can only afford care through their insurance) won’t be able to go to him anymore. But I do really admire his commitment to transparency. His website is currently down, so I can’t actually tell how much he actually charges for his services, unfortunately, although the Bangor Daily News reports that his price for an office visit has decreased from $160 to $75.
Ciampi said the rationale behind the changes in his practice (which took effect on April 1) was to allow him to practice medicine as he sees fit. By not accepting insurance, he can set his own prices, do house calls, offer discounts to financially-strapped patients, and more. He said:
“It’s been almost unanimous that patients have expressed understanding at why I’m doing what I’m doing, although I’ve had many people leave the practice because they want to be covered by insurance, which is understandable.”
Ciampi had about 2,000 patients before the change and he’s lost about 200, he said. He added:
“I’m freed up to do what I think is right for the patients. If I’m providing them a service that they value, they can pay me, and we cut the insurance out as the middleman and cut out a lot of the expense.”
He hopes his practice’s new configuration will attract people who are self-employed and people without insurance, as well as people with very insurance high deductibles. Dr. Ciampi said he hopes his approach to practicing medicine will be part of the new wave of healthcare reform:
“If more doctors were able to do this, that would be real health care reform. That’s when we’d see the cost of medicine truly go down.”
As we learned a few weeks ago, healthcare costs can vary widely from doctor to doctor, from hospital to hospital and from insurance company to insurance company, regardless of how similar the procedure or the prescription. Healthcare costs are increasingly becoming a burden for people of all walks of life and I think, finally, the public is starting to wake up to the widespread problems with our current system of care. If there were a doctor like Dr. Ciampi in my community, I would certainly take advantage of his services (and not just because the health insurance I have is kinda crappy). Obviously his approach doesn’t make sense for every care provider (I can’t really imagine a flat-rate cardiologist) but for a low-risk doctor like himself, I think his approach is both smart and compassionate.
What do you think about Dr. Ciampi’s decision/ Do you think this can be a way to ultimately cut costs for consumers or is his approach too radical?