The Future of Healthcare?

Dr. Michael Ciampi, Courtesy Bangor Daily News

We’re not sure if this is one of those “as Maine goes, so goes the country” stories, but a South Portland doctor has decided to do something rather radical – dump insurance and post his prices online.

Dr. Michael Ciampi sent a letter to his patients informing them that as of April 1, 2013 he would no longer accept any kind of health coverage, both private and government-sponsored. As he was asking patients to pay out of pocket, he also posted his prices online.

“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,” Dr. Ciampi told the Bangor Daily News.

Out of the roughly 2,000 patients Dr. Ciampi treated, a few hundred decided to go elsewhere. Some patients with health coverage, faced with having to seek reimbursement themselves rather than through his office, bristled at the paperwork burden. But doing away with insurance provides Dr. Ciampi and his patients with several benefits.

First of all, he can practice medicine the way he sees fit – which includes making house calls. With insurance companies no longer dictating prices, he can also offer discounts to patients struggling with their medical bills.

“I’ve been able to cut my prices in half because my overhead will be so much less,” Dr. Chiampi said. In fact, an office visit with an existing patient facing one or more complicated health problems which was previously $160 is now $75, payable at the end of the visit, cutting out the middleman and freeing him of the time and costs associated with processing insurance claims and sending bills.

The patients who are most likely going to be attracted to this concept are those who are self-employed, lack insurance or have high-deductible plans. As more calls are made for healthcare provider pricing disclosure, it will be interesting to see where this goes.