Cash-only doctors are predicted to grow in the coming years, which will provide self-pay patients with more options and more savings when it comes to paying for their healthcare needs. Whether uninsured or with a high-deductible health insurance plan, these doctors have managed to cut the cost of providing care simply by opting out of insurance contracts.
Dr. Will Schupp of Madison, Wisconsin is typical of these types of medical practices. He operates what is known as a direct primary care practice, meaning that his patients pay him a modest monthly fee in exchange for pretty much unlimited access to primary care. Here’s how he describes his practice on his web site:
My patients pay a subscription fee which covers unlimited direct access. I am available to my patients by phone or secure messaging 24/7. Patients can schedule online any time with no co-pay. I use technology to lower costs and remove the barriers between my patients and their healthcare…
As a board certified Family Medicine doctor, I have broad training in all areas of medicine. I am well trained to treat 95% of issues that bring people into clinic. I take care of newborns, the elderly, and everyone in between…
The costs for Dr. Schupp’s services are pretty straightforward:
The practice is run as a subscription-based service in order to spread out the total cost of care throughout the year and make costs predictable and transparent. The cost includes unlimited direct access to me on the phone, online or in clinic. The monthly fee is:
$30 per month for newborn patients to age 18
$45 per month for patients age 18 to 39
$50 per month for patients age 40 and older
There are some additional costs for specific treatments and procedures, which generally seem pretty inexpensive – for example, joint injections patients need to pay for the cost of what is being injected, generally between $8 and $120, there’s a $50 charge connected to a vasectomy, and pap smears and IUD replacements are done at cost.
The relatively low costs aren’t the only benefit to joining this type of cost – because of his smaller caseload, Dr. Schupp is able to spend more time with each patient. Here’s what his web site has to say about that:
A typical family doctor takes care of 2,000 patients. By contrast, I will limit my practice to 500 patients…
Sign up online, or at an open house tour, and set your first appointment. We spend 1 hour reviewing all of your medical history and setting individualized goals that make sense for you…
Because I have fewer patients, I have more time for each one. You spend 30-60 minutes with me, compared to the national average of 8 minutes. You have open access to my schedule…
I am available by secure messaging, phone, and video chat 24/7. You also have full access to your electronic medical record…
Dr. Kevin Wacasey of Coleyville, Texas has set up another cash-only medical practice, more along the lines of a walk-in clinic instead of a subscription-based direct primary care practice. He describes his conversion to this model on his web site:
My name is Kevin Wacasey, and I’ve been practicing medicine since 1994. During that time I’ve seen outrageous increases in health care prices. But when I graduated from medical school I took an oath to do no harm to my patients. To me, that includes financial harm.
And it may have taken a while, but I found that the biggest cure to all of this health care headache is simple: it isn’t the costs of health care that are outrageous; it’s the charges. That’s why I’ve created an affordable clinic where you and your family can come for your urgent or routine medical needs, and not leave owing thousands of dollars.
I’m also fed up with the restrictive, reactive nature of our health care system. It just doesn’t make any sense to be forced by insurance policies to wait until symptoms appear, when disease can be caught and treated in its earliest stages by being proactive.
That’s why I’m bringing preventive health screening services to the bedside as well. If you want to check your cholesterol, monitor for ovarian cancer, or have your child screened for HCM (the common heart condition that kills athletes every Fall), just ask and we’ll be glad to accommodate, at a price you can live with. No more “pre-authorizations” or “claim denials.”
Lastly, customer service may have been thrown out the window 30 years ago with the advent of managed care, but I promise that you will be seen within 15 minutes of a scheduled appointment, or your visit is on me. Period.
I’m excited about the future of health care and this new phase in my career. Whether you’re sick or trying to stay well, you can benefit from affordable, convenient, and accessible health care. The next time you need to see a doctor just come on by, call, or schedule an appointment online – I look forward to taking care of you.
The guarantee that patients will be seen within 15 minutes of their scheduled time or the visit is free is no doubt a welcome promise to anyone who’s ever been kept waiting in the doctor’s office.
Dr. Wacasey’s prices are transparent as well – flu shots are currently $18, hepatitis A and B immunizations are $85 each, and an ovarian cancer screening is $45. He also provides a receipt that includes medical codes to allow patients to submit to their insurance company for reimbursement or apply towards a deductible.
Both Dr. Schump and Wacasey suggest that their practices are ideal for patients with health savings accounts, which they recommend along with high-deductible health insurance.
There are more and more doctors every day it seems who are abandoning the third-party payment system in favor of transparent prices and direct payment for services provided, either on a subscription-based model like direct primary care practices or a straight payment-at-the-time-of-services cash-only model. This growing trend is great news for self-pay patients looking for affordable health care options.
Readers can find more cash-only doctors at the Self-Pay Healthcare Market page, unfortunately at this point I’m not set up to list individually all the practices I’ve written about so far on the blog, but a couple of links on the Market page will take you to a couple of online resources for patients looking for these types of practices.