Friday, May 12, 2006

What happens when the government meddles

Medical charity illegal, government says
In the late 1960s, Dr. James Baker of Aberdeen WA charged $8.00 for a standard office consultation. But when a patient on blood pressure medicine came in to have blood pressure checked, Dr. Baker couldn't justify charging the full $8.00 so he charged a more charitable $4.00 instead.

Because the government had to get the best price, the Medicare bureaucrats informed the doctor that as far as the Medicare program was concerned his fee for his standard office consultation was actually $4.00, not $8. So, the government would pay him or reimburse patients the usual 80 percent, or $3.20.

Oh, yes, and he better try really hard to collect that other 80 cents or the government would conclude that his usual fee was actually only $3.20, and the government would pay 80 percent of that, or $2.56; the formula spirals downward from there.

So, if a doctor charitably charged less to poor patients, the government paid the doctor no more than the fee paid by these charity patients.

Which may explain why my family practice clinic now charges $68 for what used to be a $35 office visit, hence putting going to the doctor out of my budget reach. And I'm betting I'm not the only one suffering because of this sort of thing.


At 2:06 AM, Blogger Alnot said...

I can't afford the gas money to go see one right now. Fourty dollars to fill up yer tank?


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