After 35 + years, my doctor is divorcing me! The mistress seems to be... concierge medicine. Yes, the "honeymoon period" has worn off, and we, as consumers have been expecting our doctors to accept our insurance till "death do us part." Well, malpractice insurance has gone through the roof, the paperwork has become overwhelming, and reimbursement rates have diminished to practically nothing in some cases, causing a few stresses in this marriage. In fact, it has been reported that 1-in-10 doctors who own private practices, will start direct pay or concierge medicine in the next one to three years.
Even though Congress effectively avoided the 27 percent slash in Medicare payments during the fiscal-cliff negotiations, the damage was already done. Doctors know this is not a "permanent fix," and that is cause for the "wondering medical eye." For example, under ObamaCare, doctor payments from the Medicare health insurance program are dropping at an alarming rate in order to help fund the Affordable Care Act over the next ten years. Doctors need to know there is more stability in a "good thing."
So are doctors giving up on their long time patients all together? An AMA survey revealed that one in five physicians plan on restricting the number of Medicare patients in their practice, but will you or your loved one be one of the lucky ones? How will you keep your doctor from straying to that "medical relationship-wrecker," Concierge?
Spice up your doctor/patient relationship! No, no, get your head out of the gutter; sending in strippers and showing your "physical assets" is NOT what I am talking about (plus that novelty will wear off, and these distractions can lead to bad patient care), but keep it genuine and simple, like my grandmother did!
Remember that you know your doctor best (you have been their patient for years), so work with that base! Here are some successful tips from my grandmother who will be celebrating her golden anniversary with her doctor:
1. Say "thank you" to your doctor - you might be surprised by how many patients DON'T utter a word of appreciation.
2. Have a heart-to-heart with your doctor - let your doctor know you want to keep them through reimbursement cuts, etc, and Obamacare or not, you will be loyal... no cheating on them with another specialist without them knowing, or slipping some herbal remedies without consulting with them, etc.
3. Negotiate an affordable rate - if your doctor is dropping your insurance, ask them what a reasonable cash rate would be and work out a payment plan.
4. Show an interest in your doctor - knowing your doctor's anniversary, asking them about their kids or favorite sports team, etc. My grandmother knit a blanket in her doctor's favorite sport's team colors for the holidays one year and he LOVED it.
5. Bake an apple strudel. OK, my grandmother bakes the best apple strudel and her doctor looks forward to that freshly backed strudel whenever she comes into his office.
By following these simple tips, Grandma has been able to keep her relationship with her doctor not only alive, but fun. So keep your doctor from straying, engage him/her by following grandma's lead, and you might be happier with the outcome.