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We should pay for doctor’s visits from our own pockets

I need a doctor.

Like it or not, America’s health care system is changing. With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (or as it is more affectionately known, Obamacare) all Americans are going to have to provide the government proof of health insurance. Yay, another form to fill out.

If no proof is provided, a fine (technically, a tax) would be owed.

Most Americans receive their health insurance through work. If that is not an option (because they don’t offer it or stopped offering it), the government is going to set up health insurance exchanges.

To qualify, an application has to be filled out. As of now, for a family of three, its 15 pages long. Once complete, it will be reviewed by three different federal agencies, most notably by the IRS.

The idea behind Obamacare is universal coverage. One side effect of that could be longer wait times to see your doctor.

Unless you find a doctor like Dr. Ryan Neuhofel. He’s based in Lawrence, Kan. Reason Magazine picked up his story because he has stopped taking insurance.

As Reason writes, he:

…charges for his services according to an online price list that’s as straightforward as a restaurant menu. A drained abscess runs $30, a pap smear, $40, a 30-minute house call, $100. Strep cultures, glucose tolerance tests, and pregnancy tests are on the house. Neuhofel doesn’t accept insurance. He even barters on occasion with cash-strapped locals. One patient pays with fresh eggs and another with homemade cheese and goat’s milk.

Dr. Neuhofel is able to offer these prices because he doesn’t have a large billing staff. More from Reason:

“What people don’t realize is that most doctors employ an army of people for coding, billing, and gathering payment,” says Neuhofel. “That means you have to charge $200 to remove an ingrown toenail.” Neuhofel charges $50.

This is the type of doctor I want: The one who doesn’t have a $150 mark-up on his prices and who is always in a rush. Keep in mind that $150 is not profit. It pays for their billing staff, their software and because they are billing insurance they have to wait weeks or months for payment. Dr. Neuhofel charges $20 for every 15 minutes.

This should be the future of medicine. Americans should buy insurance for emergencies and pay for doctor visits out of pocket.

It would solve so many problems. There would be less paperwork to read and fill out. For the most part, doctor’s visits would be affordable. Insurance clutters the landscape and drives the prices up.

Obamacare does nothing to reduce the costs of healthcare. It just hides the cost because it doesn’t come directly out of pocket. Instead, monthly premiums continue to increase. If health care was paid for directly out of pocket, that might be an added incentive to change our habits.

This is the main reason I’m philosophically opposed to “government fixes”: They usually involve an overwhelming application process, require too much paperwork and hardly ever actually fix the problem, not to mention they always exceed cost estimates.

Therefore, I’ll leave the solutions up to doctors like Ryan Neuhofel.